Although voters still are divided over the Affordable Care Act, several recent polls show that voters favor President Obama over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney when asked who would do a better job of handling health care issues, the New York Times reports.
According to the Times, voters might be favoring Obama on health care issues because of the ongoing debate over Medicare. The program -- which is typically a topic that favors Democrats -- became a key talking point for the GOP as recently as the 2010 elections, when Republicans argued that the Obama administration was cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicare to fund the ACA.
That strategy proved to be successful, helping the GOP gain control of the House and increase its strength in the Senate. However, Democrats' recent counterattacks have helped them regain favor on the Medicare issue, the Times notes.
According to the latest Times/CBS News poll released Friday, Obama leads Romney on the question of who would do a better job of handling Medicare. A prior poll conducted before the Republican and Democratic national conventions last month found that Obama and Romney were statistically tied on the issue, the Times reports.
The latest poll also found that more than 75% of respondents favor keeping Medicare in its current form, rather than the overhaul proposal endorsed by Romney (Calmes, New York Times, 9/15).
The proposal is included in the House-approved fiscal year 2013 budget proposal, which was developed by House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Romney's running mate. It would transform Medicare into a premium support program, in which beneficiaries would receive a subsidy to purchase insurance in the private market (California Healthline, 9/10).
Ryan-Romney Medicare Plan Favors Democrats, Pelosi Says
In an interview on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she believes Romney's selection of Ryan as his running mate tipped the scales toward Democrats by highlighting each party's plans for Medicare, Politico's "Politico Now" reports.
Pelosi said, "[T]he momentum is very much with [Democrats] [on] the Medicare issue in this campaign," adding, "We have a very excellent change to take back the House" (Gerstein, "Politico Now," Politico, 9/16).
Ryan-Romney Plan Would Affect Medicare Beneficiaries, Research Show
In related news, a "growing body of research" indicates that the proposals Romney and Ryan are touting to overhaul Medicare and Medicaid, as well as their promises to repeal the ACA, would directly affect the care that Medicare beneficiaries receive, the Washington Post reports (Kliff, Washington Post, 9/16).
Under the Romney-supported Medicaid proposal -- which also is included in Ryan's FY 2013 budget proposal -- states would receive a lump sum, which would increase at the rate of inflation, and be responsible for establishing eligibility and benefit requirements (California Healthline, 9/12).
According to a recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, repealing the ACA -- which includes $716 billion in Medicare spending reductions -- would increase premiums for beneficiaries, particularly those with lower incomes.
Further, HHS has estimated that beneficiaries paid $94 less out-of-pocket for hospital and physician coverage this year than they would have paid without the ACA. That amount beneficiaries out-of-pocket is expected to rise to $572 in 2021 as the Medicare cuts escalate, the Post reports.
Repealing the ACA also would have a significant effect on efforts to close the "doughnut hole" in the Medicare prescription drug benefit, while spending reductions proposed by Romney would affect as many as six million low-income seniors eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, according to the Post (Washington Post, 9/16).
Ryan Takes 'Harder Line' Than Romney on ACA Repeal
In related news, Ryan -- during a speech at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. -- on Friday promised that a Romney administration would repeal the entire federal health reform law and its contraceptive coverage requirement "on Day One," Reuters reports.
According to Reuters, Ryan took "a harder line" on the issue than Romney, who in an interview earlier this month said his plan would retain some of the popular provisions of the health reform law (Zengerle, Reuters, 9/14).