Kaiser: Repealing health law raises Medicare costs for seniors, government

If Congress repealed the healthcare law, seniors would pay more for Medicare benefits that cover hospitals, doctors' offices, prescription drugs and preventive services.

The law gradually closes the Medicare "doughnut hole," in which seniors must pay for all of their prescription drugs, and makes preventive services available without cost-sharing.

Kaiser also noted, as Obama often does, that the law extended Medicare's solvency. The program's bipartisan trustees said the ACA's provider cuts — the $716 billion in savings that Romney and Ryan have so aggressively criticized — extended Medicare's financial standing by 12 years.

The Medicare trust fund, which only covers hospital benefits, would become insolvent in 2024 under current law, Kaiser said. The fund would become insolvent in 2016 if the ACA is repealed.

"Because the ACA is expected to reduce net spending over ten years, repealing the ACA would increase net Medicare spending by $716 billion over ten years," the Kaiser brief says.

Romney and Ryan want to partially privatize Medicare, giving seniors a choice between the existing program or a subsidy to buy private coverage. They say those steps are necessary because Medicare is too expensive. Yet Romney has pledged to eliminate the $716 billion in savings under the Affordable Care Act.

Ryan previously proposed keeping those savings in place while repealing the rest of the ACA, using the Medicare savings for overall deficit reduction. But Romney has said he would reverse the cuts, increasing Medicare payments to healthcare providers and insurance companies.