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Then-Rep. Ron DeSantis voted for a nonbinding budget resolution in 2017 that recommended reducing projected Medicare spending over the next decade to the tune of $473 billion.
The resolution DeSantis voted for is not a law, nor did it immediately impact older Americans’ benefits. Medicare spending would have also grown under the proposal, albeit at a smaller pace.
Before he was a hard-charging governor rumored to be in the 2024 presidential hunt, Republican Ron DeSantis backed blunt cuts to the federal budget as a member of the House Freedom Caucus.
While representing Florida’s 6th Congressional District, DeSantis voted for several nonbinding budget resolutions that slowed the rate of Medicare spending.
DeSantis Watch, a project of the left-leaning Progress Florida and Florida Watch, posted a Feb. 8 Facebook attack on one of those votes from nearly five years ago.
"Ron DeSantis voted to cut $473 billion from Medicare," words over a picture of the governor read. It was flagged as part of Facebook's efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
It all comes down to defining a "cut."
The "cut" of $473 billion is the difference between projected Medicare spending of over $8.5 trillion from 2018 to 2027 and the $8.1 trillion Republicans recommended.
The resolution was symbolic; it did not affect older Americans’ benefits. If Republicans like DeSantis and others had their way, Medicare spending would continue to rise over that decade, but it would grow at a slower rate — by about 82% the next decade instead of the projected 99% in that period, according to the Senate Budget Committee.
Eugene Steuerle, a tax expert at the nonpartisan Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., said members of Congress are jockeying to define the best "baseline for any program and then argue that any spending cut or tax increase from that baseline is taking something away from people."
Republicans have played this game, too. When former President Barack Obama proposed reductions to the growth of Medicare costs, Republicans accused him of robbing and cutting Medicare — multiple times.
"DeSantis' vote for the budget resolution can reasonably (be) viewed as a statement of support for reducing Medicare spending," said Matthew Fiedler, a senior fellow with the University of Southern California-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy. "But the vote did not, in itself, actually reduce Medicare spending."
Experts told PolitiFact that there's room to spend less on Medicare without hurting recipients, including broader adoption of site-neutral hospital payments, which reduce the cost of services delivered in a hospital instead of a physician's office.
The governor's office did not return PolitiFact's request for comment. We found no public remarks by DeSantis detailing his current position on Medicare spending in Google search results or the Nexis database.
But he has spoken on the issue before. In a 2012 interview with the St. Augustine Record, DeSantis said the U.S. needs to "start to restructure the program in a way that's going to be financially sustainable, both Social Security and Medicare."
A left-leaning research group said DeSantis "voted to cut $473 billion from Medicare."
DeSantis did vote for a nonbinding budget resolution in 2017 that recommended reducing projected Medicare spending over the next 10 years from $8.5 trillion to $8.1 trillion. The difference amounts to almost $473 billion.
However, the post overlooks some nuance. The resolution DeSantis voted for is a recommendation; the resolution was not a law, nor did it cut older Americans’ benefits. Medicare spending would've also grown under the proposal, albeit at a smaller pace.
We rate this claim Half True.
Facebook post, Feb. 7, 2023
Email interview with Eugene Steuerle, a tax expert at the nonpartisan Urban Institute, Feb. 21, 2023
Email interview with Bryan Griffin, DeSantis' press secretary, Feb. 20, 2023
Florida Watch, Ron DeSantis' record on Social Security and Medicare, accessed Feb. 17, 2023
Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, Roll Call 589, accessed Feb. 17, 2023
Congress.gov, Establishing the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2018, accessed Feb. 17, 2023
The Hill, Senate narrowly passes 2018 budget, paving way for tax reform, Oct. 19, 2018
Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Republican Study Committee Adds to the Alternative Budgets, March 19, 2013
Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, The Republican Study Committee's Alternative Budget, April 9, 2014
Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Republican Study Committee Publishes Alternative Budget, April 3, 2015
PolitiFact, Putnam ad exaggerates DeSantis votes on Social Security, Medicare, Aug. 9, 2018
PolitiFact, Are Republicans paying for tax cuts with reductions in Medicare, Oct. 6, 2017
The Washington Post, House GOP plan would cut Medicare, Medicaid to balance budget, June 19, 2018
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