Mediscare! CNN Hypes Cartoon Characters' Plight Under Romney-Ryan's Medicare, Medicaid Plans

In what seemed like a White House commercial, CNN used cartoon characters to explain the benefits of ObamaCare back in June. Now CNN is trotting out the same elementary and partisan stunt to hype that seniors might lose ObamaCare benefits if the Romney-Ryan ticket wins in November.

On Tuesday, medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen explained that "Medicaid Marlene" might lose her Medicaid coverage under Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, and "Donut Hole Don" would have to pay more for prescription drugs. Cohen only mentioned the benefits of ObamaCare and the uncertainty of the Romney-Ryan plan, offering no criticisms of ObamaCare and praise of the Republican plan.

"ObamaCare, in addition to sort of re-hauling the health insurance system, it hugely expanded Medicaid. Biggest expansion ever. And it included all sorts of people like, for example, we have a woman named 'Medicaid Marlene,' reported Cohen. "Well, Ryan and Romney again want to repeal ObamaCare, so under Ryan's plan we don't know what will happen to Marlene."

For "Donut Hole Don," Cohen said "There was this gap where you had to spend all your own money. And so President Obama closed that 'donut hole,' and so seniors do get some assistance in that, what used to be the 'donut hole.' What's interesting is that Ryan and Romney want to reverse ObamaCare. They want to get rid of it and repeal it. And Ryan's proposal doesn't have anything that addresses the donut hole."

Once again CNN is trying to tug on heartstrings to explain the gross consequences of repealing ObamaCare. People like "Donut Hole Don" and "Medicaid Marlene" could lose health benefits, and there is no replacement in sight.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on August 14 on CNN Newsroom at 1:52 p.m. EDT, is as follows:

ELIZABETH COHEN: Well President Obama's plan for Medicare is basically the plan that's been around for decades, which is it's a federal program, you turn 65, you get your health insurance from the federal government. And what Ryan wants to do is to keep that as an option but that people would also have an option of getting a voucher. I hand you a voucher, I'm the government, I hand you a voucher, and then you can use that voucher to go buy a private policy. If you find a nice cheap one, you'll get some money back, because the voucher will be too big. You choose an expensive one, you'll owe more money out of your own pocket. And all of that would start in 2023.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX: Tell us about – some of the critics point to the fact that under Ryan's plan, they believe that it would re-open what is the so-called "donut hole." Explain that.

COHEN: Right. First let me explain the "donut hole," because people may have forgotten, and we haven't talked about this in a while. It used to be that with Medicare you would spend a certain amount on prescription drugs and Medicare would help you, but then after that amount you were on your own. And so you would just be out there having to spend all of your own money. And then again, once you spent a lot of money, Medicare would help you again. There was this gap where you had to spend all your own money. And so President Obama closed that "donut hole," and so seniors do get some assistance in that, what used to be the "donut hole."

What's interesting is that Ryan and Romney want to reverse ObamaCare. They want to get rid of it and repeal it. And Ryan's proposal doesn't have anything that addresses the "donut hole." So if he reverses it and doesn't do anything else, that "donut hole" comes back and seniors are left spending that money again. Now maybe he has something in his head that he wants to do. It's not in the plan that we looked at.

MALVEAUX: Not clear yet.

COHEN: Not clear yet.

MALVEAUX: Talk about Medicaid, because obviously that's another thing that a lot that people are talking about. It's very important, and they're very distinct changes and differences between these two.

COHEN: ObamaCare, in addition to sort of re-hauling the health insurance system, it hugely expanded Medicaid. Biggest expansion ever. And it included all sorts of people like, for example, we have a woman named "Medicaid Marlene." So we just named her that. This is a woman who used to make too much money to be on Medicaid, but under ObamaCare she can now get Medicaid.

Well, Ryan and Romney again want to repeal ObamaCare, so under Ryan's plan we don't know what will happen to Marlene. Under Obama she gets Medicaid. Under Representative Ryan's plan, we don't know because what he wants to do is give block grants to states, just give them money, and say do Medicaid and you figure out how to make it work and you figure out who you want to cover. So maybe a state would cover Marlene or maybe they might not. It would be up to the state that she lives in.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014