Ryan’s comments are highly misleading. Neither Obama nor his health care law literally cut funding from the Medicare program’s budget. Still, the number has a slight basis in fact.If you read the entire article, the comments they are "fact checking" don't contain "spending cuts" or "cut funding". That's their interpretation. And yet, three paragraphs later, they admit that there were "spending reductions".
The health care law instituted a number of changes to try to bring down future health care costs in the program. The total anticipated savings comes to $716 billion over the next 10 years, as determined by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
We should note that both parties agree Medicare spending is increasing too fast as baby boomers retire and medical costs increase. The government needs to find savings so those costs don’t overwhelm the federal budget in the future.
So, yes, Obama’s law did find $716 billion in spending reductions. They were mainly aimed at insurance companies and hospitals, not beneficiaries. The law made significant reductions to Medicare Advantage, a subset of Medicare plans run by private insurers. Medicare Advantage was started under President George W. Bush, and the idea was that competition among the private insurers would reduce costs. But the plans have actually cost the government more than traditional Medicare. The health care law scales back the payments to private insurers.
The issue revolves around Federal accounting practices. Because many Federal programs have plans that span years (even decades), their budgets are more or less on autopilot. So for certain programs (like Medicare), the Federal government already knows what it's going to spend next year. And it'll be more than what it spends this year. In nominal terms, Medicare spending will grow next year.
A spending cut in this circumstance can then be defined as a reduction in future spending. The reason why Politifact is saying Ryan's comment is false is because Medicare spending still grows. It just doesn't grow as much as it would have grown without the law. Under CBO scoring rules, Politifact is actually incorrect.
What's even worse is that they justify those "spending reductions" as things that don't matter to beneficiaries on Medicare, since those 716 billion dollars in "spending reductions" raid money mostly from Medicare Part A (hospital trust fund) and Part C (Medicare advantage).
Reducing payments to hospitals and insurers will directly hurt beneficiaries. Think about what they are saying: "Reductions in payments to insurers and hospitals will not harm beneficiaries on Medicare".
Apparently they think that hospitals and insurers are making so much money on Medicare that they'll be able to take less in payments over time. The actual answer is they'll just drop Medicare patients.
Because Medicare has strict payouts for services to physicians and hospitals, if they reduce those payouts (due to health cost inflation), it will force more independent practices and hospitals to stop accepting Medicare patients. If that doesn't hurt beneficiaries, I don't know what does.