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Letter: Let's debate facts, not half-truths

This letter is the third in response to a Public Forum letter appearing in the July 18 edition of the Tribune written by Nancy Snyder. The title of the letter was "Obamacare must be repealed."

My first letter responded to a false statement that 83 percent of doctors are considering quitting because of Obamacare. The second letter dealt with a bogus notion that a board established in the law will ration care. This letter deals with a misleading statement that Obamacare takes $500 billion from Medicare.

According to the Annenberg Foundation's "Fact Check," the law does not slash the current Medicare budget by $500 billion. Rather, that's a $500 billion reduction in the future growth of Medicare over 10 years, or about a 7 percent reduction in growth over the decade. In other words, Medicare spending would continue to rise, just not as much. The law stipulates that guaranteed Medicare benefits won't be reduced, and it adds some new benefits, such as improved coverage for pharmaceuticals.

Most of those savings come from a reduction in the future growth of payments to hospitals and other providers, and a reduction in payments to the over-funded private Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare has been paying private insurance company Advantage plans 14 percent more per beneficiary than traditional Medicare. That practice will be appropriately discontinued.

According to Vicki Gottlich with the Center for Medicare Advocacy, some Advantage plans will probably leave the market; however, "the plans that have been around for a long time are going to be fine."

The statement, therefore, that Obamacare takes $500 billion from Medicare is misleading at best.

My final disagreement with Snyder's letter is her statement that this law is "a grave danger to our health care." In my opinion this is simply not true. Instead of repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, I would suggest that we work together to improve it. We should be having serious conversations about issues, based on facts that are true, rather than political rhetoric that includes half-truths, misleading statements and outright lies.

John Behr