Medicare Issue Reverberates During Convention


Medicare (Photo credit: Sistak)

Topics: Health Costs, Medicare, Politics

Aug 30, 2012

As both parties press their views about revamping the program, a National Journal survey of “insiders” finds both sides think they can win on the issue. Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that even as the Romney-Ryan ticket seems to be holding its own against Democratic attacks on the issue, some Republicans down the ballot are concerned.

National Journal: Convention Insiders In Both Parties Embrace Medicare Debate
Since Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan as his running mate, President Obama and Democrats have hammered the GOP ticket over the Wisconsin representative’s plan to reform Medicare. Normally, Republicans run from this issue. But lately, they think the Romney-Ryan team is actually helped by the debate, according to a National Journal Convention Insiders Poll conducted on Tuesday. The poll—an anonymous survey of Democratic and Republican elected and party officials, grassroots activists, consultants, fundraisers, lobbyists, and allied interest-group leaders—found that [the] majority of both GOP and Democratic operatives sense their respective standard-bearers can win on the Medicare issue (Barnes, 8/29).

The Boston Globe: Medicare Arguments Key For Both Parties
Elections are usually about change. But one of Mitt Romney’s most important messages at the Republican convention this week might be this: “Nothing changes for current seniors or those nearing retirement.” That is the mantra that the Romney campaign has been emphasizing since the pick of Paul Ryan. It is an effort to counter charges from President Obama’s campaign that the Wisconsin congressman’s proposal to replace Medicare with a voucher system — an idea also embraced by Romney — would hurt senior citizens (Kranish, 8/30).

Modern Healthcare: Dems, GOP Bring Medicare Debate To Tampa
Hours before Rep. Paul Ryan‘s (R-Wis.) scheduled remarks at the Republican National Convention, Republicans and Democrats in Tampa, Fla., promoted their respective messages on Medicare, a top issue in this presidential campaign since the Wisconsin Republican became Mitt Romney’s running mate. Together, the Democratic National Committee and the Obama for America campaign hosted a news conference featuring Democratic lawmakers and citizens, including Florida resident Carole Nenninger, who spoke about how the Medicare program helped her manage soaring medical bills since her husband was diagnosed with cancer five years ago (Zigmond, 8/29).

The New York Times: Ryan Medicare Plan Is Already Shaking Up House Races
Republican and Democratic pollsters and strategists say a curious split is developing around the Ryan plan. The top of the Republican ticket — Mitt Romney and Mr. Ryan — is holding its own with the issue in a presidential contest that has shown little movement in polls for months. But down the ticket, Medicare attacks are taking a serious toll on Republicans (Weisman, 8/29).

Related KHN Coverage: Medicare Takes Center Stage In Close Pennsylvania Races.

Meanwhile, several news outlets look at elements of both Republican and Democratic plans-

Kaiser Health News: FAQ: Obama v. Ryan On Controlling Federal Medicare Spending
It may come as a surprise that President Barack Obama and GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan are pushing the same target rate for controlling federal spending on Medicare. Each would set it at half a percentage point higher than the growth rate of the economy – the gross domestic product – after a phase-in period. Looking at their plans in more detail, however, their approaches to curbing costs are very different. And the practical effects on seniors are also likely to be different (Werber Serafini, 8/29).

Medicare Newsgroup: Medicare Finances Made Simple
Discussions on the future of Medicare always center on the term “solvency,” making a pretty simple issue sound more complicated than it really is. And the big numbers being thrown around don’t ease the intimidation. But in many ways, understanding Medicare’s fiscal reality is easy enough for anyone who’s ever held a bank account: Money comes in and money goes out. This article will do just that: follow the money to explain where it comes from and how all $549.1 billion gets spent (Pasternak, 8/29).

Medpage Today: Health Reform Consensus Seen Possible
A bipartisan approach to health reform is possible, several speakers said here Tuesday at a forum sponsored by the Galen Institute, a conservative think tank. “The American people know there are real problems in our health sector that need to be fixed, and that really can have bipartisan solutions,” said Institute founder and president Grace-Marie Turner. Turner moderated the forum, which occurred in conjunction with the Republican National Convention (Frieden, 8/29).

Medpage Today: GOP Docs Have Unique Stake In Ryan As Veep
Under Ryan’s proposal, which would be applicable to those who turn 65 after 2022, Medicare would provide an average of $8,000 to help offset the cost of buying private health insurance. Those eligible would still have a choice to enroll in the traditional fee-for-service Medicare program — but would receive premium support for that option just as those using private plans would. Ryan’s proposal, part of his overall budget plan, would also raise the age of eligibility from 65 to 67 and reopen Medicare Part D’s “doughnut hole.” It also calls for repealing the Affordable Care Act. The GOP-controlled House passed Ryan’s budget plan each of the last 2 years. However, it stalled in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Republican physician congressmen attending the party’s national convention say they like the Ryan proposal (Frieden, 8/29).

This is part of Kaiser Health News’ Daily Report – a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day’s news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.


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