At a campaign stop in Greer, S.C., on Thursday, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney explained his Medicare plan, seeking to differentiate his proposals from that of his running mate, House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (Wis.), and attack the federal health reform law, Politico reports (Gibson, Politico, 8/16).
Romney drew a chart on a white board to compare his Medicare plan with program reforms included in the Affordable Care Act.
Romney said that through ACA:
- Medicare funding would be cut by $716 billion;
- About four million beneficiaries would no longer have coverage through Medicare Advantage; and
- Medicare Part A would go bankrupt.
Romney then wrote that under his plan that current beneficiaries would see "no adjustments, no changes, no savings." Romney added that Medicare would remain "solvent" under his plan (Sands, "Hill Tube," The Hill, 8/16).
Obama Responds, Attacks
The Obama campaign quickly responded to Romney's assertions, the Washington Post reports. In a statement, the Obama campaign said, "Unfortunately for Mitt Romney, a whiteboard presentation can't change that he's got his facts wrong on Medicare."
It added, "The president has extended the life of the program by nearly a decade. If Romney had his way, it would run out of money by 2016. The president’s health care law eliminates insurance company subsidies and cracks down on waste and fraud in Medicare -- saving $716 billion -- and doesn’t cut a single guaranteed Medicare benefit" (Rucker, Washington Post, 8/16).
The Obama campaign also continued to criticize Romney for his selection of Ryan as his running mate. Jen Psaki, a spokesperson for the Obama campaign, said, "[T]he selection of Paul Ryan just further solidifies Mitt Romney's embrace of a radical budget, including dramatic cuts to programs like Medicare and programs that people across the country rely on" ("Hill Tube," The Hill, 8/16).
On Friday, Obama released an advertisement defending his record on Medicare, while arguing that Romney and Ryan would undermine the program, the AP/Washington Times reports. The ad highlights a letter AARP sent to lawmakers earlier this year in which the group said that Ryan's plan would increase costs for beneficiaries while Obama's approach would strengthen Medicare (Babington, AP/Washington Times, 8/17).
Bipartisan Opposition to Medicare Changes, Poll Finds
A majority of Democrats, Republicans and independent voters oppose changing Medicare into a program in which beneficiaries receive a fixed amount of money to purchase coverage, according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation/Washington Post poll, Kaiser Health News' "Capsules" reports (Hancock, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 8/16).
The poll -- which was based on surveys with 3,130 U.S. adults between July 25 and Aug. 5 -- found about 55% of Republicans, 68% of Democrats and 53% of independent voters said they would not want Medicare to be a premium support program. That proposal was the centerpiece of Ryan's Medicare plan, according to CQ HealthBeat (Bunis, CQ HealthBeat, 8/16).
Medicare More Important Than ACA in Selecting President, Survey Finds
Voters consider a presidential candidate’s stance on Medicare more important than the reform law, according to a separate Kaiser Family Foundation poll, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
The law ranked fifth on a list of respondents' health care concerns, behind:
- The cost of health coverage; and
- Providing coverage for the uninsured (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/16).
The poll also found that 73% of Republicans said the cost of health care and insurance and Medicare were "very" or "extremely" important for their vote. Eighty percent of Democrats said Medicare was the most important, while 78% said costs and insurance were most important.
In addition, 74% percent of independent voters said Medicare was the most important health care issue.
The survey also found that voters are more aware of the reform law than of Romney's health reform proposals, according to CQ HealthBeat. The poll found that 72% of respondents said they have a basic grasp of Obama's health care policies, compared with 45% who said the same about Romney's plans (CQ HealthBeat, 8/16).