Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

October 6, 2012

Fact Check: Dubious Denver debate declarations

(Continued)

Treatment Denied?

Romney repeatedly claimed that a new government board was "going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have." Not true. It could make some binding recommendations about such things as what drugs or medical devices would be paid for by Medicare, but it has no legal power to dictate treatment or ration care.

The board is a 15-member panel that's tasked with finding ways to slow the growth of Medicare spending. So, its work concerns Medicare, not everyone seeking health care. And, according to the law, the board can't touch treatments or otherwise "ration" care, or restrict benefits.

What's officially called the Independent Payment Advisory Board, made up of appointed health care experts, medical professionals, and consumer representatives, would make binding recommendations to reduce the growth of spending. Congress could override them with a three-fifths majority in each house.

An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation determined that the IPAB was limited to finding savings from "Medicare Advantage, the Part D prescription drug program, skilled nursing facility, home health, dialysis, ambulance and ambulatory surgical center services, and durable medical equipment."

23 Million 'Out of Work'?

Romney overstated the number of unemployed Americans when he said that there were "23 million people out of work." There were 12.5 million unemployed Americans in August, the most recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Romney meant to refer to the unemployed, plus those working part-time who want full-time work (8 million) and those who are considered "marginally attached" to the labor force because they have not looked for work in the past four weeks (2.6 million). All of that adds up to 23.1 million. Romney got his talking point closer to the truth when he said, "We've got 23 million people out of work or stopped looking for work in this country." But he still left out the 8 million who are working part-time for economic reasons.

-- By Brooks Jackson, Eugene Kiely, Lori Robertson, Robert Farley, D'Angelo Gore and Ben Finley for FactCheck.org

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