Fact check: Ryan misrepresents effect of his Medicare plan

Rep. Paul D. Ryan claimed inaccurately that the Medicare plan he and Gov. Mitt Romney have proposed would preserve seniors’ access to the current Medicare program and would not affect current retirees.

The Romney-Ryan proposal, which builds on plans passed by House Republicans, would scrap the current Medicare system, which guarantees all seniors access to the government program with a defined set of benefits. Instead, their proposal says that Medicare beneficiaries entering the program after 2022 should get a fixed amount of federal money to buy either a private insurance plan or the traditional Medicare plan.

Although the Romney-Ryan plan preserves Medicare as an option, the voucher will not necessarily be adequate to pay for it.

PHOTOS: Paul Ryan’s past


Under the GOP plan, the value of the voucher will be tied to available plans in different areas in the country, assuring that it is sufficient for the two lowest-cost options. If a senior wants a more costly health plan, he or she would have to pay the difference.

That means that if Medicare is not one of the two low-cost options, the voucher would not be adequate to guarantee Medicare coverage.

Ryan and Romney have also pledged to repeal President Obama’s healthcare law and cut federal spending on the Medicaid program for the poor. That means seniors would immediately lose several benefits under the new law, including additional aid for prescription drugs and access to preventive care without copays.

Cutting Medicaid would probably affect millions of low-income seniors who rely on Medicare and Medicaid because Medicaid helps pay for nursing home care.

PHOTOS: Memorable presidential debate moments

Follow Politics Now on Twitter and Facebook

Twitter: @noamlevey