In his weekly Internet and radio address on Saturday, President Obama focused on Medicare in another effort to position it as a key campaign issue before the November elections, Reuters reports (Chadbourn, Reuters, 8/25).
Since presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney selected House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his running mate two weeks ago, Medicare has become an election season issue as Democrats and Republicans debate the future of the program and their efforts to sustain it (California Healthline, 8/15).
In his address, Obama reiterated that he is "willing to work with anyone to keep improving the current system, but I refuse to do anything that undermines the basic idea of Medicare as a guarantee for seniors who get sick" (Reuters, 8/25). Although he did not mention Romney or Ryan by name, Obama criticized their plans to offer beneficiaries vouchers to purchase coverage on the private market, USA Today's "The Oval" reports (Jackson, "The Oval," USA Today, 8/25).
Obama defended the changes to Medicare under the Affordable Care Act, adding, "As president, my goal has been to strengthen these programs now, and preserve them for future generations." He said, "I've proposed reforms that will save Medicare money by getting rid of wasteful spending in the health care system and reining in insurance companies -- reforms that won't touch your guaranteed Medicare benefits. Not by a single dime" (Tau, Politico, 8/25).
Romney Touts Massachusetts Health Reform, Defends Record on Women's Health
In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," Romney continued to defend the Massachusetts health care overhaul -- which he enacted in 2006 as governor -- in response to claims by Democrats that the GOP is failing on women's health issues, The Hill's "Hill Tube" reports (Mali, "Hill Tube," The Hill, 8/26).
Romney said he is "very proud" of the 2006 law and noted, "I'm the guy who was able to get health care for all the women and men for my state." He added, "[Democrats are] talking about [women's health issues] at the federal level. We actually did something and we did it without cutting Medicare and without raising taxes" (Gibson/Samuelsohn, Politico, 8/26).
Romney also addressed specific women's' health issues in an effort to rebut Obama's argument that he is "out-of-touch" and would seek to block access to contraceptives or preventive care if elected, according to "Hill Tube." Romney said that he "recognize[s] that different people have reached different conclusions" on abortion, but noted that "[i]n regards to contraceptives, of course Republicans and myself in particular recognize that people should have a right to use contraceptives" ("Hill Tube," The Hill, 8/26).
Poll Finds Voters Fear Republicans Will Cut Medicare
More voters believe that Obama and congressional Democrats will be able to preserve Medicare than those who believe that Romney and other Republicans will preserve the program, according to the latest Washington Times/JZ Analytics survey, the Washington Times reports.
The survey -- which was based on a poll of 800 likely voters between Aug. 23 and Aug. 26 -- found that 46% of voters said they believe Republicans are more likely to make cuts to the program, compared with 27% who believe Democrats would more likely be the "cutters" of the program, according to the Times (Dinan, Washington Times, 8/26).
Report Finds GOP Plans Would Prompt Bigger Medicare Premium Increases
Romney's plan to repeal the ACA and enact the House-approved 2012 Republican budget resolution -- which includes a plan to overhaul Medicare -- could increase beneficiaries' total lifetime premium costs by $59,500 beginning in 2023, according to new data from the Center for American Progress, National Journal reports.
The report found that the increase in premiums would affect beneficiaries who turn 65 in 2023, the first year that the proposed Medicare reforms would take effect, because the costs of health plans diverge from the value of government-provided vouchers, according to National Journal (Sanger-Katz, National Journal, 8/24).