Republican Chris Collins attacks Democrat Kathleen C. Hochul in a new television commercial, saying that votes she took against repealing President Obama's health care plan have perpetuated planned cuts in Medicare and Medicare Advantage.
What the "Broken Promises" ad does not say is that the health care overhaul extends the life of Medicare by eight years, that it closes the prescription drug "doughnut hole" for senior citizens and that a repeal of the law would have negative consequences for seniors.
Hochul used the Medicare issue effectively in defeating Assemblywoman Jane L. Corwin in a special election for the congressional seat in May 2011, and it has once again become central to the campaign in the newly redrawn 27th District, which is heavily Republican.
Collins' latest ad features a photo of Hochul and Obama, who is generally unpopular in the district, and uses breaking mirrors and photos of seniors for effect.
The ad makes this claim: Hochul broke her 2011 campaign promise not to "touch Medicare" when she voted "to help pay for Obamacare."
Fact: Hochul voted six times against repealing the president's health care overhaul in its entirety, and three times in favor of repealing parts of it. The overhaul includes a $716 billion cut to projected Medicare spending over 10 years. Most of the savings come from lower payments to medical providers, and $156 billion comes from lower subsidies for Medicare Advantage, which costs more than traditional Medicare.
The intent is to continue to provide benefits while encouraging providers to be more efficient, Democrats have said.
The Obama plan extends the life of the Medicare hospital trust fund to 2024. Without the cuts contained in the plan, Medicare would be insolvent in 2016, according to guardians of the trust fund.
The cost of Medicare is still projected to go up, even with the health care law's cuts.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney also has used the line that $716 billion is taken from the "Medicare trust fund and [is used] to pay for Obamacare," a claim rated "half-true" by PolitiFact, a Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking website.
Romney has a point, but it's more complicated than he makes it seem, according to PolitiFact.
The law uses several measures to try to reduce a projected growth in Medicare spending, and those savings are used to offset new costs in the law so it doesn't add to the deficit.
The reductions in Medicare are counted against the health care law's new spending, which includes benefits for Medicare recipients, including increasing prescription drug coverage by $43 billion and offering preventive care with no out-of-pocket costs, a $5 billion expense.
Other new spending includes tax credits for the uninsured to buy private insurance and an expansion of Medicaid.
The new law also is paid for with new taxes on the wealthy and on the health care industry.
Hochul has said she is opposed to the reductions in future funding for Medicare and Medicare Advantage.
The GOP-led House has not had a vote on repealing the part of the law that affects Medicare, Hochul's campaign noted. A budget proposal put forth by Rep. Paul D. Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee and House Budget Committee chairman, contains the same Medicare cuts that Collins has used to criticize Hochul.
Collins does not support the cuts to Medicare that Ryan calls for, said campaign adviser Christopher M. Grant.
Details on how Collins would protect Medicare weren't forthcoming from his campaign.
Grant said Collins is in favor of adopting "pro-growth, pro-business policies that increase the economy."
Collins has largely refrained from discussing the Ryan budget plan, saying only that he looks forward to being part of the debate in Washington in January. However, he also has said the budget doesn't go far enough, that it should seek to eliminate the deficit in 10 years, not 30, as the Ryan plan prescribes.
Television viewers can expect to see the ad often. The Collins campaign wouldn't disclose how much is being spent to air it but said the amount was significant in the Buffalo and Rochester markets.