Questionable Source

UPDATE: Corrected to note the wrong Kaiser Family Foundation was credited with the study

George Kaiser / AP


UPDATE: The Washington Free Beacon incorrectly attributed the source of a recent study on Medicare reform to the George Kaiser Family Foundation. The Henry Kaiser Family Foundation was responsible for the study. We regret the error.

The foundation of a 2008 Obama bundler released a study Monday that misleadingly alleges Medicare reform would drive up costs for a majority of seniors.

The Kaiser Family Foundation found that 59 percent of seniors could see medical costs increase under a plan that is more austere than any put forward by GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.

The study lends credence to the Obama campaign’s misleading claim that Medicare reforms put forward by Ryan and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney will increase costs for seniors.

President Barack Obama’s reelection team quickly pounced on the study. Spokesman Ben LaBolt tweeted Monday that the "study says the Romney-Ryan Medicare voucher plan would raise premiums."

However, the foundation admitted in the study that it had not actually analyzed the Medicare plan proposed by the GOP ticket, which would allow seniors over 55 to continue on the existing system, while those under 55 could choose between a variety of private plans and a more traditional government system.

"The analysis also differs from Chairman Ryan’s most recent proposal by assuming full implementation in 2010 (rather than a phased-in implementation starting in 2023) and by not exempting everyone who is at least 55 years old now," the study noted.

This is not the first time that Kaiser has attempted to paint Ryan in a negative light. Nor is this the Obama campaign’s first use of studies funded by left-wing organizations. An Obama ad in August accused Ryan of trying to drive up health costs on seniors by more than $6,000 per year, citing an April 2011 study released by the George Soros-backed Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). PolitiFact rated the ad "half-true."

Kaiser lent its own expertise to the claim, issuing a study in April 2011 which stated that the costs to seniors would be closer to $6,900. Although such analysis claimed to derive the results from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), they were less than forthright about the source material. The Kaiser and CBPP studies had analyzed an older version of Ryan’s plan.

The Kaiser Family Foundation is part of a vast network of nonprofit groups created by George Kaiser, an Oklahoma billionaire who pledged to bundle between $50,000 and $100,000 for the Obama campaign in 2008 and visited the White House several times in 2009 and 2010.

Kaiser also owned a 39 percent stake in 360 Solar Degree Holdings Inc. That is the parent company of Solyndra, the failed solar panel company that received a $535 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. Congress is investigating the deal because of several provisions that are favorable to Kaiser, including terms that allow him to recover money from the company ahead of taxpayers.

Bill McMorris   Email Bill | Full Bio | RSS
Bill McMorris is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He joins the Beacon from the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, where he was managing editor of Old Dominion Watchdog. He was a 2010 Robert Novak Fellow with the Phillips Foundation, where he studied state pension shortfalls. His work has been featured on CNN, Fox News, The Economist, Colbert Report, and numerous print publications and radio stations. He lives in Alexandria, Va, with his wife and three daughters. His Twitter handle is @FBillMcMorris. His email address is

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