At the final day of the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, President Obama formally accepted his party's nomination to run for a second term, noting in a speech that the November election will offer voters an opportunity to decide whether they value his policies, such as the Affordable Care Act, Modern Healthcare reports.
He also criticized Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate, House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), for proposing to repeal the ACA and transform Medicare into a premium-support program (Daly , Modern Healthcare, 9/6).
In his speech, Obama promised that the nation's "problems can be solved" and "our challenges can be met." However, he noted, "The truth is, it will take more than a few years for us to solve challenges that have built up over the decades" (Espo/Furlow, AP/U-T San Diego, 9/6).
Obama Credits Supporters, Highlights Differences With GOP, Asserts Preservation of Medicare
Obama said the push by his administration for health reform in its first term would not have been possible without the support of voters who elected him in 2008. Citing a provision in the ACA that prohibits insurers from setting lifetime limits on health coverage, he said, "You are the reason there is a little girl with a heart disorder in Phoenix who'll get the surgery she needs because an insurance company can't limit her coverage," adding, "You did that" (Daly , Modern Healthcare, 9/6).
Obama then said that the Romney-Ryan approach to health care could be summed up in the argument that "since government can't do everything, it should do almost nothing," adding that under their plan, "If you can't afford health insurance, hope that you don't get sick" (Frieden, MedPage Today, 9/6).
Obama also highlighted the plan in Ryan's House-approved budget proposal that would transform Medicare into a premium support program, noting, "I will never turn Medicare into a voucher [program]." He said, "No American should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies" (Daly , Modern Healthcare, 9/6).
Instead, his administration would "reform and strengthen Medicare for the long haul" by "reducing the cost of health care -- not by asking seniors to pay thousands of dollars more," he said (MedPage Today, 9/6).
Biden Criticizes Romney-Ryan Medicare Plan, Invokes 'VoucherCare'
In his nomination acceptance speech earlier Thursday night, Vice President Biden refuted a claim by the GOP about cuts to Medicare under the health reform law and highlighted details in the Ryan plan -- which Romney has endorsed -- that Biden said have been deliberately hidden from voters, The Hill's "Hill Tube" reports.
Biden said, "What they didn't tell you is that their plan would immediately cut benefits to more than 30 million seniors already on Medicare," adding, "What they didn't tell you is what they're proposing would cause Medicare to go bankrupt by 2016. And what they really didn’t tell you is they're not preserving Medicare. They're for a whole new plan. They're for 'VoucherCare'" (Bolton, "Hill Tube," The Hill, 9/6).
According to the New York Times, Biden was referring to the solvency of the Medicare insurance trust fund, which "has long been in question." The Republican actions Biden described would not cause the trust fund to be depleted in four years, the Times notes. The $716 billion in Medicare savings and cuts in the ACA would be used to extend the solvency of the trust fund, but "[a]bsent those savings, the trust fund will be exhausted sooner," according to the Times (Lowrey et al., New York Times, 9/7).
Democrats Take Risk in Defending ACA
In related news, Democrats made the ACA a top item on the agenda at their national convention, making sure that they embraced, promoted and defended it over the past three days, Politico reports. Some observers viewed the move as "a risky bet" because the law continues to be "abstract and misunderstood" by many voters, according to Politico.
Obama's re-election campaign said there has been a shift in momentum and opinion about the law since the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to uphold it. However, polls continue to show that the ACA remains divisive among voters, Politico reports (Raju/Kenen, Politico, 9/6).
Democrats Seek To Appeal to Voters on a Personal Level
Meanwhile, senior Democrats at the DNC on Thursday urged party activists and delegates to personalize their campaigns by sharing stories with other voters and prospective supporters about of how the ACA will benefit their lives and those of their families, Modern Healthcare reports. Party leaders said they believe personal health-related stories will be more useful in securing votes, compared with television campaign ads (Daly , Modern Healthcare, 9/6).