Obama aide: Medicare 'cut' wasn't a cut

Aug. 19, 2012 at 2:19 PM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- One of President Obama's advisers said the supposed cuts the administration made to Medicare was actually the result of savings made through new efficiencies.

Robert Gibbs on "Fox New Sunday" denied allegations made on the Republican campaign trail the administration has diverted $716 billion from Medicare into the Obamacare program.

"We found $716 billion in efficiency and savings primarily by reducing the subsidy that the government was paying to Medicare Advantage through private insurance companies," said Gibbs. "That was something that was costing Medicare, not saving Medicare money as it was originally designed to do. In fact, it was costing Medicare about 16 percent more than traditional Medicare."

Gibbs said further savings would be realized in the near future by the administration's strengthening of preventative care for seniors. "The best way to tackle healthcare cost is to work with seniors to make sure that we prevent illnesses, rather than simply treat them once they have them," he said.

Ed Gillespie, a senior adviser to Republican candidate Mitt Romney, said the GOP platform was focused on a more-fundamental revamp of Medicare that would ensure its long-term survival.

Gillespie took issue with the contention Medicare's survival would be based on aging consumers paying significantly higher out-of-pocket costs for healthcare. He said the Romney plan to allow taxpayers to opt for private health insurance for their old age would increase competition and keep costs in check.

"People understand these reforms will make the program more efficient and save it for future generations," said Gillespie.

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