Scott Brown’s new ad includes disputed claims

SHREWSBURY—In a new television advertisement, Senator Scott Brown accuses Elizabeth Warren of supporting a policy of “raiding $716 billion from Medicare” and breaking an agreement with retirees who paid into the program during their working years.

Similar claims made by other Republican candidates have been knocked down by several fact-checking organizations.

Politifact looked at a group of similar claims in August, concluding: “Republicans claim the president’s $716 billion ‘cuts’ to Medicare hurt the program’s finances,” the website said. “But the opposite is true. These cuts in the future growth of spending prolong the life of the Medicare trust fund, stretching the program’s finances out longer than they would last otherwise.”

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The New York Times drew a similar conclusion in its fact check, but also added a caveat: “The cuts to providers could cause private Medicare plans to raise their premiums, which is expected to reduce enrollment in them. Those changes have not materialized yet.”

The new Brown advertisement shows grainy images of women sewing textiles at a factory before an announcer warns that “Elizabeth Warren would raid Medicare even though that money belonged to you.”

Brown’s ad is referring to a portion of President Obama’s health care law that calls for a reduction in future spending on Medicare, mostly through recalculated reimbursements for hospitals, private insurers, and other providers. The law, which Warren supports and Brown opposes, does not literally cut spending. Instead, it is intended to reign in spending growth. The $716 billion is a 10-year estimate. The law stipulates that beneficiaries not lose their benefits.

But Brown and other opponents of the law argue that cuts would find their way to senior citizens. On Wednesday, Brown said that while visiting a nursing home in Taunton last week, he listened to the operator tell him that he would be forced to shut down if the cut takes effect.

“You call any hospital, any doctor, and any nursing home and ask them what three quarters of a trillion dollars would do to their providing of services to seniors,” Brown said Tuesday at Heberts Candies in Shrewsbury, while receiving an endorsement from former state representative Karyn Polito. “To think that that’s not going to have any effect on the care and coverages that they’re going to get is misleading.”

The Brown campaign also provided a memo that referred to a 2010 New York Times article that included comments from Medicare’s chief actuary stating that cuts in the law “could become unsustainable” because they could force nursing homes and hospitals to lose money, “possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries.” The White House told the Times that the fear was unfounded.

State Democrats fought back against the Brown ad yesterday in a news release pointing to the AARP’s comments that the claims are untrue and to’s analysis. The Democrats said senior citizens would save hundreds of dollars a year on prescription drugs as a result of Obama’s health care law. The AARP said health care law would strengthen Medicare’s ability to pay hospital bills on behalf of beneficiaries, because the law extended the life of a trust fund that supports those payments by seven years, from 2017 through 2024.

“Scott Brown has chosen to double down on Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s false attack against President Obama,” said John Walsh, Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman, in a statement. “ Scott Brown should stop the false attacks and explain to seniors why he thinks they should pay more for prescription drugs.”