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Reality Check: Ads About Medicare Cuts Misleading

Published On: Oct 08 2010 07:17:11 AM CDT   Updated On: Oct 09 2010 08:53:27 AM CDT
MADISON, Wis. -

WISC-TV's We the People Wisconsin Fact Finder report on Friday centered around a claim being made about Medicare in multiple political ads and races across the state.

Timothy Parsons, of Madison, asked, "Where did the $500 million cut to Medicare figure come from?"

WISC-TV did a "Reality Check" on the ads' claims.

"The claim is being made against Ron Kind and Russ Feingold, who both voted for the federal health care bill," said Arp.

WISC-TV's partners at Wisconsin Public Television found that the claims in the ads need some clarification.

On more than one occasion, WPT found that conservative groups and candidates have claimed that the health care bill passed by Congress has made huge cuts to Medicare that will affect thousands of seniors.

The claims make it sound as if the new bill will pull money out of the current Medicare budget, but WPT found this the claim to be misleading.

"About $575 billion in cuts is planned, but according to the bill its projected over a 10-year span," said Arp.

Julie Short, with the Wisconsin Coalition of Aging Groups said the claims are misleading and inaccurate.

'There is no cut in benefits that Medicare recipients will receive. Absolutely no cut in benefits," Short said. "What they are talking about is a number of cost reduction measures which will make the system more efficient and decrease the rate of growth in Medicare spending."

She said it's true that the cuts could affect seniors on Medicare Advantage, but that's because the program was seen to be inefficient and overly profitable for insurance companies.

Linda Reivitz with the University of Wisconsin School Of Nursing said a third of the total planned Medicare cuts will cut back on payments to those programs. So, some insurance programs have decided to discontinue their coverage.

"If the policies no longer become available because they aren't subsidized to the tune of 14 percent, then in that case the recipients may well have to get a traditional Medicare policy," Reivitz said.

This week, the Center for Medicare Services said it found that about 46,000 seniors might have to find new plans or doctors -- far from the 100,000 thousand claimed in current ads.

If you have a claim or a question you'd like the Fact Finder team to check out, please send it to question@wtpeople.com.

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