Democrat Kathleen C. Hochul’s new ad aims to beat back claims made by her Republican opponent, Chris Collins, and appeal to older voters.
The ad is mostly accurate.
In the 30-second ad, “Too Far,” the incumbent representative talks directly into the camera and appears to be in a senior center or nursing home, as older people can be seen in the background. There are no images of Collins or any text on the screen, except for Hochul’s name and a notice that her campaign paid for the ad and she approved it.
Hochul, running against Collins in the 27th District, makes several claims about her opponent’s past comments.
Claim: “Chris Collins says I voted to hurt senior citizens.”
Fact: This claim is mostly accurate. Collins’ ad, “Broken Promises,” didn’t use the phrase “hurt senior citizens,” but said “Hochul voted to cut Medicare and Medicare Advantage by over $700 billion when she opposed repealing Obamacare.” Senior citizens rely on these health insurance programs.
Claim: “Chris Collins says the Ryan budget doesn’t go far enough.”
Fact: This claim is accurate. Collins said in a May interview with the Batavia Daily News that a budget drafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan doesn’t go far enough in balancing the budget.
The quote, which was paraphrased in the news article, was taken out of context in the ad, according to Collins campaign adviser Chris Grant.
What Collins meant was that the Ryan budget doesn’t balance the budget within the 10-year time frame Collins prefers, Grant said.
Though Collins may not have been speaking directly about Medicare when he said the Ryan budget doesn’t go far enough, he has not given specifics for how the budget can be balanced. He has said he would be part of a team in Washington that would work on a budget.
He has also said he does not support the cuts to Medicare in the Ryan budget but has not said how the program should be changed.
Claim: “I voted against the Ryan budget because it ends the current Medicare system and turns Medicare over to the insurance industry.”
Fact: The first part of this claim is accurate.
The Ryan budget, which Hochul voted against the second time it came up for a vote in the House – she wasn’t in Congress for the vote on an earlier version – makes changes to the current Medicare system.
Kaiser Health News called it a “fundamental shift from today’s program.”
Hochul is careful not to say it “ends Medicare,” which has been deemed false by fact-checking organizations such as Factcheck.org and Politifact.
The second part, the claim that the Ryan budget “turns Medicare over to the insurance industry,” is somewhat misleading.
The budget prescribes that new Medicare beneficiaries in 2023 choose from private plans or traditional Medicare, which would be offered on a Medicare exchange, and pay for them with government subsidies.
Factcheck.org points out that it’s a system similar to the current Medicare Advantage program and the health exchanges in Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which Hochul has voted against repealing.
Ryan has said that the intent of the Medicare changes is to drive down costs by utilizing competition in the private insurance marketplace, but others have said that the subsidies could be too low to cover rising health costs.
Ryan’s plan, supporters say, would offer premium support that would always be enough to cover the two cheapest plans. But if costs rise faster than gross domestic product plus a half percentage point, “Congress would have to step in and take some unspecified action to keep costs down,” according to Factcheck.org.
Claim: “And it makes seniors pay thousands of dollars more.”
Fact: This claim is somewhat misleading, because it’s not clear how much it will cost seniors.
While Ryan said his plan does not change benefits for current beneficiaries, it does repeal the Affordable Care Act, which closes the Medicare prescription drug “doughnut hole” and provides preventive care with no out-of-pocket costs.
It’s not clear how much repealing the current health law will cost current seniors if nothing is done to mitigate those impacts.
As for future beneficiaries, the Congressional Budget Office has said that there is uncertainty in estimating how much the Ryan plan will cost them.
The Republican plan could lead to significant increases in premium costs in some parts of the country, according to a study released this month from the Kaiser Health Foundation.
The study, which is not an exact replica of the Ryan plan, found six in 10 Medicare beneficiaries would have faced higher premiums if they didn’t switch to a cheaper plan, based on modeling how the plan would have worked using health costs in 2010.
In New York, average higher premiums would exceed $100 per month, the study found.
Nationally, Democrats have used the attack that the Ryan plan will cost seniors $6,000 more per year, but that is based on an earlier Ryan budget, proposed in 2011, before Hochul was elected to Congress.
Claim: “At the same time it cuts Medicare benefits, the Ryan budget gives millionaires even more tax cuts.”
Fact: This claim is mostly true. The Ryan budget raises the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 by 2034, which has an impact on benefits for future seniors.
The Ryan plan also gives people with a cash income level of more than $1 million an average tax cut of $265,011, according a March analysis by the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank.
Ryan has claimed his plan is revenue neutral, and that it broadens the tax base and simplifies the tax code – instead of six tax brackets there would be two brackets.
The Ryan budget has not been enacted because of opposition in the Senate and White House.