We'll be hearing a lot about Medicare this election season, and reporters should study up on some of the expected flashpoints, so they can challenge candidates who try to deceive us.
A case in point is Representative Scott Tipton's appearance on 9News' Your Show Sunday.
"When we're talking about health care, I think we need to get the facts on the table," Tipton told Your Show host Brandon Rittiman. "The President, this administration, and the people who support them voted to take away $575 billion dollars out of Medicare, hurting our senior citizens."
As I've reported before, nonpartisan fact checkers have found this to be mostly or completely false. Politifact found the statement, "The new health care law 'will cut $500 billion from Medicare. That will hurt the quality of our care," to be deep in its "mostly false" category, which is as false as its ratings go. Fact checkers at the Washington Post also found that the $500 billion is saved in Medicare efficiencies, which are "wrung from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries."
If you read the different analyses of this issue, the key point is that there's no evidence that the $575 billion (It's actually $500 billion) saved from Medicare will hurt seniors, while it's clear that some services will be improved.
To be fair, Obamacare critics point to some element of uncertainty about how the cost savings will play out in the future, but they can't point to a specific example of how seniors' healthcare services would be diminished in any way. There's no meat behind the allegation.
Tipton raised the $500 billion figure during his 2010 campaign, as noted by Pueblo Chieftain reporter Peter Roper, who handled Tipton's accusation by adding a factual statement after Tipton's allegation.
From an Oct. 29, 2010 article:
"...[Tipton] repeated his charge that Salazar and Democrats want to cut $500 billion from Medicare -- a cut that Tipton said would hurt seniors. That part of the legislation calls for reducing the growth in Medicare expenses by $500 billion over 10 years by eliminating fraud and waste."[BigMedia emphasis]
I'd go further, if I were reporting on Tipton, and write categorically that 1) nonpartisan fact checkers have found the allegation to be mostly or completely false, and 2) Republicans cannot offer specific examples of how seniors will be hurt due to Medicare cost-saving measures.
I'd also ask Tipton to provide specifics and report his response.