Representative Scott DesJarlais (TN-04) misled his constituents in a recent op-ed about his vote to end Medicare. DesJarlais falsely claimed that the House Republican budget would “allow us to keep Medicare as it is for people, ages 55 and older” and Medicare would become “the same sort of plan that [he has] as a Member of Congress.”

In reality, the Republican budget would end Medicare. And as rightly pointed out, the Republican budget would reopen the prescription drug donut hole for people currently on Medicare Part D, and the Republican plan could cost 490,000 individuals age 54 and younger in the district access to Medicare’s guaranteed benefits. The Washington Post’s Fact Checker called the claim that this plan would be like health care for Members of Congress “false and misleading.”


The Republican Budget Affects Current Seniors:

  • Republican Plan Would Affect Current Seniors. “Republicans say their Medicare plan wouldn’t affect anybody near retirement age. But it would. Republicans are convinced that burnishing the public’s view of their unpopular proposal to overhaul Medicare depends on assuring today’s seniors that they won’t be affected […] There’s only one problem with the strategy: It’s not true. The policies in the House GOP budget, if enacted, would begin affecting millions of seniors almost immediately by increasing their costs for prescription drugs and probably long-term care. Further, Medicare costs could rise over time if healthier seniors choose to abandon the traditional benefit program.” [National Journal, 6/2/11]
  • FactCheck.Org: Ryan Plan Would Reinstate “Doughnut Hole.” According to, in May 2011, “Ryan’s budget plan does indeed reinstate the so-called ‘doughnut hole,’ a gap in Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. As the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said: ‘The proposal would repeal the provisions that created the Independent Payment Advisory Board and that expanded subsidies for the “coverage gap” in Part D (a range of spending in which many enrollees have to pay all of their drug costs, sometimes called the doughnut hole).’” [, 5/06/11]

  • DesJarlais’ Plan Would Increase Prescription Drug Costs for 8,300 Seniors in TN-04. According to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House Republican budget would: increase prescription drug costs for 8,300 seniors currently on Medicare who enter the Part D donut hole in TN-04 and eliminate preventive care benefits for 111,000 current Medicare beneficiaries in the district. [House Energy and Commerce Committee, 6/11]
  • Republican Budget Criticized for Potential Cuts to Nursing-Home Care. “While House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is pitching his Medicaid overhaul as welfare reform, healthcare providers and liberal groups are warning that its greatest impact may be on seniors. Because Medicare does not cover long-term care such as lengthy nursing home stays, some 14 million seniors and people with disabilities instead rely on Medicaid. […] ‘One million patients require long term care through Medicaid every day,’ Mark Parkinson, the president and CEO of the American Health Care Association, said in a statement.” [The Hill, 4/5/11]


The Republican Plan is “Fundamentally Different” Than the Plan Members of Congress Receive:

  • False and Misleading: GOP lawmakers tout Medicare reform by stretching a comparison to the health benefits they receive. “During the congressional recess, Rep. Ryan and other Republican lawmakers have been selling their proposal to restructure Medicare with what appears to be a poll-tested phrase: It will be similar to a system ‘just like’ what members of Congress have. The phrase pops up in all sorts of news releases and interviews with members of Congress, as well as no less than five times in the budget plan crafted by Rep. Ryan. […] Ryan’s phrase is alluring — many Americans apparently believe that members of Congress get great benefits — but is it accurate? […] But the comparison begins to break down once you consider the premium support payments. […] We think the reference to the health plan for members of Congress gives a false and misleading impression to ordinary people. Two Pinocchios.” [Washington Post, 4/29/11]
  • It’s Fundamentally Different. The Republican’s Medicare proposal included in their budget is “fundamentally different from the kind of employer-provided health insurance that members of Congress receive.”  [POLITIFACT, 4/13/11]


The Republican Budget Would End Medicare:

  • Wall Street Journal: The Republican Budget for 2012 Would “Essentially End Medicare.” “The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills.” [Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]
  • McClatchy: Republican Spending Plan Would End Medicare. “The proposals from Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who chairs the House Budget Committee, would reverse retirement policies created during President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society programs of the mid-1960s…His plan effectively would end Medicare for seniors, revamp Medicaid for the poor, scrap the 2010 health care law, roll back nonmilitary federal spending overall and lower individual and corporate tax rates.” [McClatchy-Tribune News Service, 4/5/11]
  • Republican Budget Would Deny 490,000 Individuals Access to Medicare in TN-04. According to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the House Republican budget would: deny 490,000 individuals age 54 and younger in the district access to Medicare’s guaranteed benefit; increase the out-of-pocket costs of health coverage by over $6,000 per year in 2022 and by almost $12,000 per year in 2032 for the 121,000 individuals in the district who are between the ages of 44 and 54; and require the 106,000 individuals in the district between the ages of 44 and 54 to save an average of $182,000 to $287,000 per individual – to pay for the increased cost of health coverage over their lifetimes. [House Energy and Commerce Committee, 6/11]

  • Congressional Research Service: Individuals Would Not Be Able to Enroll in Current Medicare Program. The Congressional Research service (CRS) found that the Republican budget ends Medicare: “Individuals who become eligible (based either on age or disability) for Medicare in 2022 and later years would not be able to enroll in the current Medicare program. Instead, they would be given the option of enrolling in a private insurance plan through a newly established Medicare exchange.” [CRS Report, 4/13/11]
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