Medicare Looms Large in 2012 Presidential Campaign

Suddenly Medicare reform and cuts are front and center in the 2012 Presidential race.  That is mainly due to Gov. Mitt Romney’s pick of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis) as his running mate.  Rep. Ryan is the philosophical standard bearer of the Republican Budget that has passed the House, but languishes in the Senate.  Among its provisions, the Ryan Budget moves Medicare to a “premium support” model over time for new retirees.

From the moment Ryan hit the campaign trail last weekend, he has been using the line “Medicare cannot be the piggybank for Obamacare’s provisions.”

Romney-Ryan visit Mooresville, NC on Aug. 12, 2012

Today, the Kaiser Foundation weighed in on the matter with a fact-check on the charges and counter-charges.

Q:  Romney and other Republicans over the past two years have criticized President Barack Obama and Democrats for cutting $500 billion from the Medicare program over the next decade as part of the 2010 health care law.  In the past couple of weeks, the number that Romney is using has grown to $716 billion? Which is right?

A: They both are.  The $500 billion figure comes from a March 2010 analysis that estimated the 2010 federal health law’s effects on Medicare spending and was put together by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT). It covered the budget years 2010-2019.

As part of their efforts to repeal the law, congressional Republicans in July asked the two agencies to estimate the impact of a repeal on Medicare.

That July analysis, which covered the years 2013-2022, determined that the health law is expected to reduce Medicare spending by $716 billion.  It is higher than the previous figure because it covers a later time frame that includes greater Medicare spending reductions.

I strongly encourage you to read the entire piece as Kaiser is a great source of healthcare policy information.

It is interesting to me, as a GenX’er, to realize that this may be the first Presidential campaign in my lifetime where Medicare is an achilles heel for the Democrats, not the Republicans.


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