And About Paul Ryan…

Topics: Health Costs, Medicaid, Politics, Health Reform

Sep 24, 2012

Some conservatives want to hear more from the GOP vice presidential pick regarding his proposals for Medicare and Medicaid, and less of the campaign’s more cautious talking points.

The New York Times: Conservatives Want To ‘Let Ryan Be Ryan’ On Campaign Trail
Mr. Ryan still has high-profile moments of combativeness and takes on fights that Mr. Romney does not. On Friday, he appeared at the annual AARP convention and drew boos as he called for repeal of Mr. Obama’s health care law and laid out the approach that he and Mr. Romney would take to address Medicare’s financial troubles, which would encourage more private-sector competition in the government-run program (Gabriel and Weisman, 9/23).

The Washington Post: Among Some Paul Ryan Backers, Disappointment At Romney Campaign Trajectory
Conservatives had hoped that Mitt Romney‘s choice of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.) as his running mate would make Romney act more like Ryan — bold, specific, confident. Instead, in the six weeks since Ryan became the GOP vice presidential nominee — and particularly in the three weeks since the Republican National Convention in Tampa — there has been mounting concern among Republicans that the pick has made Ryan look more like Romney — vague, cautious and limited to pre-set talking points (Sonmez and Fahrenthold, 9/24).

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.

Mitt Romney in 2007 in Washington, DC at the V...

Mitt Romney in 2007 in Washington, DC at the Values Voters conference (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Obama, Ryan Offer Dueling Visions Of Medicare To AARP Members

With his family by his side, Barack Obama is s...

With his family by his side, Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States by Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2009. More than 5,000 men and women in uniform are providing military ceremonial support to the presidential inauguration, a tradition dating back to George Washington’s 1789 inauguration. VIRIN: 090120-F-3961R-919 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topics: Health Costs, Medicare, Health Reform, Politics

By Phil Galewitz

KHN Staff Writer

Sep 21, 2012

GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan was booed and heckled on Friday when he told an AARP convention in New Orleans that he would repeal President Barack Obama’s health law.

In contrast, Obama’s remarks about Medicare –delivered by live satellite an hour earlier — were warmly received.

Both candidates presented themselves as the protectors of seniors’ health benefits and accused the other of being untruthful as they sought to galvanize support among one of the most important voting blocs.  The remarks came as a USA Today/Gallup found the president remains more trusted to address Medicare’s challenges in several swing states. In the nation’s 12 top battlegrounds, including Florida, voters by 50 percent to 44 percent say they have more faith in Obama than his Republican challenger on Medicare.

Obama told seniors that repealing his health law and adopting Republican strategies on Medicare would boost the profits of insurance companies at the expense of seniors.

“No American should ever spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies,” Obama told the conference via live satellite.

An hour later, Ryan argued the Democrats’ health law would cause “steep cuts to real benefits to real people in real time,” eliciting loud boos.

But the Wisconsin congressman got applause when he knocked a provision in the law that empowers an expert panel to make cuts to Medicare if Congress fails to act when spending exceeds certain targets. “We propose putting 50 million seniors, not 15 unelected bureaucrats, in charge of their own health care decisions,” he said.

Obama repeated his oft-made argument that the Republican Medicare proposal would create a “voucher program” that would destroy traditional Medicare because insurers would lure the youngest and healthiest seniors into private plans.

“The traditional Medicare would end up collapsing and all seniors would end up at the mercy of insurance companies,” he said.

Ryan, in turn, accused Obama of “turning Medicare into a piggy bank for Obamacare,” by using $716 billion in cuts to Medicare to extend health care coverage to as many as 30 million Americans as part of his health overhaul.

Ryan repeatedly said his concerns about potential cuts in benefits to seniors were backed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services Chief Actuary Richard Foster.

Ryan’s budget plan, passed by the Republican-controlled House earlier this year, includes the same $716 billion in cuts.

Obama defended the $716 billion in Medicare cuts over the next decade, saying they reduce “waste, fraud and overcharging by insurance companies.”

“It turns out contrary to what you have heard, Obamacare strengthens Medicare,” Obama said. Of the term “Obamacare,” he joked, “I don’t mind the term. I do care and that is why we passed the bill.”

Despite anxiety from many seniors, AARP endorsed Obama’s health law in 2010 largely because it extends the solvency of Medicare by eight years until 2024 and gives seniors free preventive care and closes the “doughnut hole” in the Medicare prescription drug program.

Obama reminded attendees of those benefits. Because of the health care law, the average senior will save $5,000 from 2010 to 2022, according to a Health and Human Services report released Friday.

HHS also said that more than 5.5 million seniors and people with disabilities saved nearly $4.5 billion on prescription drugs since the law was enacted.

Ryan  said his plan for Medicare would turn the program for people under age 55 into one similar to that enjoyed by members of Congress and federal employees, who get to choose among private health plans for coverage.

Ryan said he wants to bring choice and competition into the overall Medicare program, the same way it has helped hold down costs in the Medicare prescription drug program that Congress passed in 2003. Ryan noted the Medicare drug benefit costs have come in way under budget. He made no mention of the surge in generic drug use over the past decade, which most experts say is the cause of the massive slowdown in drug spending.

“You might have heard the word ‘voucher’ earlier. That is a poll-tested word to scare today’s seniors,” he said.

“A voucher is you go to your mail boxes, you get a check and you are on your own. No one is proposing that.”

Ryan stressed that Republican plans to change Medicare and repeal the health law would not affect those on Medicare today or those older than 55.

Repealing the health law would cut benefits to seniors, including free preventive care they get now and help to pay for drugs that fall in the Medicare prescription drug doughnut hole. Ryan made no mention of how he would address those areas.

Medicare in Australia's brand.

Medicare in Australia’s brand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Obama And Romney Offer Competing Medicare Visions

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Topics: Health Costs, Medicare, Politics

Aug 17, 2012

GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney broke out a whiteboard outside an air terminal to illustrate his key points. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama’s campaign launched a new ad to argue his approach strengthens the program, citing plaudits from the seniors group AARP.

The Washington Post: Mitt Romney, Obama Camp Spar On Medicare Plans
Mitt Romney wants to make the Medicare debate easy to understand. So on Thursday, he pulled out a black marker and stepped toward a trusty white board propped up on a school-room easel here to make a presentation. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s message was simple: For current seniors under President Obama, he said, Medicare would be cut by $716 billion, and some 4 million people would be kicked off their Medicare Advantage plans. Under Romney, he said, current seniors would see “no adjustments, no changes, no savings” (Rucker, 8/16).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama And Romney Agree There Has To Be A Limit On Medicare; Worlds Apart On How To Do That
President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney agree there has to be a limit to how much seniors pay for Medicare, but they’re worlds apart on how to make that happen. You wouldn’t know it from the accusations they hurl on the campaign trail, but that is the real heart of the argument between the two leaders and their political parties (Alonso-Zaldivar, 8/16).

CQ HealthBeat: That $716 Billion Medicare Cut: One Number, Three Competing Visions
By the time this election season is over, even small children may know how much “Obamacare” cuts Medicare. The figure, $716 billion over 10 years, is the subject of already-intense debate over what the health care law will do to, or for, Medicare. And it shows no signs of letting up before November. It’s a policy fight that reflects three distinctly different visions of how the $716 billion should be used and what it means for the health care that the elderly will receive. How that fight plays out may shape not only the outcome of many election races but also what happens next year in Congress to Medicare and the health care law. But first, where did the figure come from? Is it accurate? And why is it so much larger than previous estimates (Reichard, 8/16)?

Los Angeles Times: Romney Maintains Medicare Attack On Obama
Shortly after his chartered plane landed here for the last stop on a two-day fundraising swing across the Deep South, the Republican presidential hopeful stepped before news cameras outside a private air terminal to offer new evidence for how wrong Obama was to slash $716 billion in Medicare spending. “This is going to be a big issue in places where there are a lot of seniors,” Romney said, using a black marker to write down a few key points on a white board mounted on an easel. … A voucher system for Medicare is the centerpiece of a budget proposal championed by [Paul] Ryan, passed by the Republican-led House and embraced by Romney (Finnegan, 8/16).

Politico: Mitt Romney Tries To Explain Medicare Stance
Mitt Romney attempted on Thursday to boil down his Medicare plan to a simple explanation: “No change” and “Solvent.” Those were the words he scrawled on a whiteboard at a last-minute news conference in Greer, S.C. this afternoon as he attempted to address questions about whether his plan is identical to that of Paul Ryan’s. Romney chose Ryan as his running mate last weekend, and the Wisconsin lawmaker is best known for a budget-slashing effort that would convert Medicare into a voucher program for some future seniors (Gibson, 8/16).

Politico (Video): Obama’s First Ad On Ryan And Medicare
The Obama campaign’s first Medicare ad has arrived. Chicago has released several web videos since last weekend going after Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney for their views on entitlements. But only this morning has the president’s team put out a TV spot on the issue. It’s not a totally slash-and-burn ad, but instead a commercial that contrasts what the AARP has said about the Affordable Care Act and what it has said about the Ryan budget. “The nonpartisan AARP says Obamacare ‘cracks down on Medicare fraud, waste and abuse,’” the ad says. “And the Ryan plan? AARP says it ‘would undermine’ Medicare and ‘could lead to higher costs for seniors” (Burns, 8/17).

The New York Times: Romney Says He Paid At Least 13% In Income Taxes
Now, after Mr. Romney’s decision to name Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin as his vice-presidential choice, the campaign is instead waging an aggressive battle on Medicare, welfare and Mr. Obama’s character. That change in focus can be seen in the campaign’s ads and in Mr. Romney’s speeches. And it stands in contrast to the approaches of some Republican Congressional candidates, who said Thursday that they intended to wage their own campaigns strictly on economic issues. “We are staying on our message,” said Chris Collins, the Republican candidate in New York’s 27th District, near Buffalo. Mr. Collins said that Republicans should welcome the Medicare debate, but that in his own campaign, “every time anything comes up, I bring it back to the economy, the economy, Obamacare” (Shear, 8/16).

ABC: Romney Gives Medicare Lecture On Tarmac
With a black marker in his hand and a whiteboard to his side, the Republican presidential candidate tried to spell out, literally, the differences between his and President Obama’s policies…The comments seemed to run counter to what he said Wednesday night, when in an interview with ABC affiliate WBAY in Wisconsin, Romney argued his and running mate Paul Ryan’s proposals for revamping Medicare are “the same, if not identical” (Krieg, Dwyer and Friedman, 8/16).

CBS: Romney Uses White Board In Attempt To Clarify Medicare Stance
Between fundraisers in South Carolina, Romney decided to talk about Medicare, giving the press corps an impromptu lesson on the differences between his policies and the president’s. “Which of these two do you think is better,” Romney asked his audience, “going bankrupt or being solvent? Well obviously, being solvent.” “The differences in our Medicare perspective could not be more stark and dramatic, and I think as the people, as the seniors in America understand what the president’s plan is doing to Medicare, they’re going to find it unacceptable,” added the GOP nominee. Both sides now claim they welcome a substantive conversation on Medicare, an issue that’s long been considered a political third rail (Crawford, 8/17).

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.

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anxiety Index: Survey Examines Baby Boomers’ Concerns About Medicare

Topics: Health Costs, Aging, Medicare, Politics

Aug 10, 2012

The AARP found that health expenses ranked fourth on the list of concerns.

Los Angeles Times: High Anxiety: Half Of Baby Boomers Doubt They Will Ever Retire
Worries about health care, inflation, taxes, nest eggs and more have boomers scoring a 70% on AARP’s anxiety index, compared to 59% of younger voters and 46% of people ages 65 or older (Hsu, 8/9).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Survey: Baby Boomers Worry About Medicare’s Future, Want More Detail From Candidates
The organization asked registered voters, including an oversample of people age 50-plus, about their five top financial concerns to measure what they call an ‘Anxiety Index.’ Health expenses ranked fourth on the list of concerns after rising prices, taxes and financial security in retirement (Rao, 8/9).

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.