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Jon Greenberg
By Jon Greenberg October 18, 2012

Connie Mack says Bill Nelson voted to cut $700 billion from Medicare

It is a favored line among Republican candidates to charge their Democratic opponents with cutting Medicare. U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, R-Fort Myers, leveled the attack at least four times in the first half hour of Wednesday’s Florida U.S. Senate debate.

Mack said incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson "voted to cut $700 billion out of Medicare to pay for Obamacare."

PolitiFact has addressed this claim many times, in many ways, in many states.

Obamacare refers to the Affordable Care Act. It does not literally cut funding from the Medicare program’s budget. Rather, the health care law instituted a number of changes to try to bring down future health care costs in the program. We should note that the Republican plan championed by GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan also trims Medicare spending by almost exactly the same amount.
The spending reductions fall largely on insurance companies and hospitals, not beneficiaries. The law made significant reductions to Medicare Advantage, a subset of Medicare plans run by private insurers. Medicare Advantage was started under President George W. Bush, and the idea was that competition among the private insurers would reduce costs. But the plans have actually cost more than traditional Medicare. So the health care law scales back the payments to private insurers.
Hospitals, too, will be paid less if they have too many re-admissions, or if they fail to meet other new benchmarks for patient care.
The overall Medicare budget is projected to go up for the foreseeable future, even with the health care law’s cost-saving measures. The law tries to limit the program’s growth, though, making it less than it would have been without the law, but not reducing its overall budget.
$716 billion
The Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan analytic arm of Congress, looked at the years 2013 to 2022 and determined the health care law would reduce Medicare outlays by $716 billion.
Obama and fellow Democrats say the intention is to protect beneficiaries' coverage while forcing health care providers to become more efficient. One impact of the law is it extends the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund by eight years to 2024.   

There is a connection between the Medicare cost savings and the health care law. At the time the health care law was being finalized, Democrats said it was important that the new law not add to the deficit. So the reductions in Medicare spending were counted against the health care law’s new spending.
Some of the new spending goes toward Medicare recipients. It increases coverage for prescription drugs and offers preventive care at no cost to the patient.
More significantly, though, the law moves to cover the uninsured, by giving them tax credits to buy private insurance. It also expands Medicaid, the state insurance program for the poor. The savings from Medicare offset that spending.
The health law also imposes new taxes, primarily on the wealthy and on the health care industry. That, too, offsets the new spending.

Our ruling

Mack said Nelson voted to cut $700 billion out of Medicare, to pay for Obamacare.

Medicare spending increases under Obamacare, but over 10 years, it rises more slowly that it would without the law. The money comes from reducing payments to insurance companies and hospitals.

Part of the savings go to reduce prescription drug payments for Medicare recipients, as well as to provide free preventive care.

Overall, the lower spending extends the solvency of Medicare by eight years.

We rate the statement Mostly False.

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Connie Mack says Bill Nelson voted to cut $700 billion from Medicare

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