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By Erin O'Neill June 29, 2012

Jon Runyan claims Affordable Care Act cuts Medicare program by $500 billion

A discredited claim is making a comeback following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding most of the national health care reform law.

U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan said in a press release on Thursday that the law, formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, makes cuts to Medicare.

"My constituents simply cannot afford the $500 billion in new tax increases and $500 billion in Medicare cuts required to pay for this flawed legislation, nor can our economy sustain the job-killing mandates and regulations it imposes," Runyan, a Republican representing parts of southern New Jersey, said in a press release.

Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, repeated the claim in his statement about the high court’s ruling, saying "Obamacare cuts Medicare - cuts Medicare by approximately $500 billion dollars."  

Both claims distort the truth, as our PolitiFact colleagues have found many times.

The law aims to slow future growth in Medicare spending. It does not cut from the Medicare program.

The health care law made several changes to Medicare, which provides health insurance for millions of seniors and people under 65 receiving Social Security disability payments.

Some of the changes will increase Medicare spending to help cover prevention services and to fill the so-called doughnut hole, a gap in prescription drug coverage for some enrollees, according to a tutorial by Tricia Neuman, vice president and director of the Medicare Policy Project for the Kaiser Family Foundation, an independent group that analyzes the health care system.

Other changes aim to reduce growth in Medicare spending, by more than $500 billion over 10 years, though estimates of the future savings vary.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have both released reports since the health care law passed showing that the Affordable Care Act will reduce future spending growth on Medicare by more than $500 billion.

The Affordable Care Act "contains numerous provisions that, on balance, will reduce federal spending on Medicare," the CBO said in a June 2012 report.

The biggest portion of that savings, according to Neuman’s tutorial, will come from reducing annual increases in payments to medical providers.      

But the health care law does not cut $500 billion from Medicare. It just reduces future growth.

With the law, Medicare spending will still increase.

It’s important to note, as PolitiFact has found, that the savings from the reduction in Medicare spending will help offset spending on other provisions of the health care law, a point that Runyan noted in a statement to PolitiFact New Jersey.

"The CBO projects Medicare savings of approximately $500 Billion and instead of using that money to shore up the program, the savings are diverted from Medicare and used to fund other provisions of ObamaCare.  Even worse, this piece of legislation is hitting individuals, working families and small businesses with a massive tax increase that will further cripple the economy and slow job creation," Runyan said.  

Our ruling

Runyan, repeating a Republican talking point about Obama’s health care law, said there are "$500 billion in Medicare cuts required to pay for this flawed legislation."

The legislation aims to slow projected spending on Medicare by more than $500 billion over a 10-year period, but it does not cut that money from the program. Medicare spending will increase over that time frame.

Still, a sliver of truth exists in this claim, because the difference in the spending will help offset costs of other provisions in the law.

We rate this claim Mostly False.  

To comment on this ruling, go to

Featured Fact-check

Our Sources

U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan, Runyan Statement on ObamaCare Supreme Court Ruling, June 28, 2012

E-mail interview with Andrew Fasoli, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan, June 28, 2012

Congressional Budget Office, CBO’s Analysis of the Major Health Care Legislation
Enacted in March 2010, March 30, 2011

PolitiFact Florida, Chamber says Bill Nelson voted to cut Medicare $500 billion, May 15, 2012

PolitiFact, Did President Barack Obama "steal" $500 billion from Medicare?, Sept. 12, 2011

Bloomberg, Medicare Scare Ad Makes False Claim of Cuts for Seniors, June 28, 2012
Congressional Budget Office, Selected CBO Publications Related to Health Care Legislation, 2009–2010, December 2010

The Kaiser Family Foundation, Health Reform and Medicare: Overview of Key Provisions, July 2010

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Estimated Impact of Health Care Reform Proposals, April 22, 2010, Romney response to Supreme Court on health care, June 28, 2012

PolitiFact Virginia, American Crossroads says Tim Kaine urged $500 billion in Medicare cuts, June 20, 2012

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Estimated Financial Effects of the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," as Amended, April 22, 2010

Congressional Budget Office, The 2012 Long-Term Budget Outlook, June 2012, Mitt Romney: I will repeal health-care law, June 28, 2012


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Jon Runyan claims Affordable Care Act cuts Medicare program by $500 billion

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