Campaigns Dispute Impact Of Medicare ‘Voucher-Type’ Plan
Medicare stays atop the rhetoric in the campaigns for the White House and Congress.
Modern Healthcare: GOP Medicare Plans Would Sock Elderly, Report Says
Republican proposals to replace Medicare insurance benefits with vouchers that seniors could use to buy insurance would drive up healthcare costs for the nation's elderly, said a newly released report from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, an advocacy arm for the liberal think tank the Center for American Progress. The vouchers would not grow as quickly as healthcare costs and seniors would be required to pay the difference for plans that exceed the vouchers, the authors said (Evans, 9/10).
Politico: Critics: We Were 'Kind' To Mitt On Medicare
The Romney campaign fired back, arguing that the report's authors included a former Obama campaign adviser and a former Democratic Senate aide who worked on the Affordable Care Act. In a conference call Monday afternoon, report author David Cutler — the former Obama campaign adviser — argued that he relied on conservative estimates to conclude, among other findings, that the average senior retiring a decade from now would have to pay $59,500 more for lifetime care under the Romney plan (Millman, 9/10).
The Boston Globe: Campaigns Focus On Medicare Costs
The dispute highlights the difficulty of accurately scoring Romney’s Medicare plan. The Center for American Progress made cost estimates based on the voucher limits outlined in a proposal by Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, Romney’s running mate, who recommended capping the annual increase in premium support payments at the growth of the nation’s gross domestic product, plus 0.5 percent (Borchers, 9/10).
National Journal: Mixed Message From Obama Advisers On Medicare
President Obama has seized on Republican proposals to overhaul Medicare as a top campaign issue, saying that the GOP plan to add a private insurance option would end seniors' guarantee of government health care. But behind the election-season politics, influential experts who have advised Obama on health care are open to a future for Medicare that includes competition among private insurance plans. ... In [private] e-mail exchanges with the staff of the White House-appointed fiscal commission that were obtained by National Journal, David Cutler and Jonathan Gruber, who have both advised Obama, gave qualified support to a Medicare voucher plan offered by Ryan and former Clinton budget director Alice Rivlin (McCarthy, 9/10).
Several outlets also look at the impact of the Medicare debate on congressional races.
Roll Call: Both Parties Roll The Dice On Medicare
[I]t's hard to know the exact impact of the Medicare issue, particularly in House races. ... Make no mistake about it: Medicare is a crucial political issue for Democrats running for the House and the Senate. They are relying on it heavily, though not exclusively, across the country to define GOP incumbents as insensitive to seniors and siding with millionaires over older Americans (Rothenberg, 9/11).
Politico: GOP's Secret Weapon: Mom
House Republicans say they'd never push grandma over the proverbial Medicare cliff. If you don't believe it, just ask their parents, who are starring in a string of early ads by vulnerable lawmakers. Taking a cue from Paul Ryan — the author of the Medicare makeover plan Democrats are trying to bury them with — vulnerable GOP lawmakers are invoking mom and dad as character witnesses in a string of early campaign ads. … Many of the Republican strategists involved ... said that Ryan's newfound prominence in the election made the task at hand more urgent (Isenstadt, 9/10).
A new study highlights what is at the some of the financial implications for seniors.
The Fiscal Times: Out-Of-Pocket Medical Costs Threaten Seniors
[F]or all the debate about reining in the costs of Medicare, a new study suggests that the mountainous out-of-pocket medical costs that patients pay during the last five years of their lives threaten the vision [Pres. Lyndon] Johnson laid out. According to the study, 43 percent of Medicare recipients spend more than the total value of their assets, excluding their home, on out-of-pocket medical costs. And 25 percent spend everything they have – or more than they have – including the value of their home (Rosenberg, 9/10).
And at a meeting in Washington Monday, two of the original proponents of a voucher system talked about the current debate.
Reuters: Republican Plan For Medicare Could Face Years Of Hurdles: Experts
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wants to turn Medicare into a voucher system and President Barack Obama hopes that fact alone will help him win votes among senior citizens and baby boomers. But health policy experts, including two analysts who first floated the idea of Medicare vouchers 17 years ago, say no such plan is likely to become legislation -- let alone law -- until after the next presidential election in 2016 (Morgan, 9/10).
CQ HealthBeat: Framers Of Premium Support System See No Savings Soon From Overhaul Tactic
Robert Reischauer and Henry Aaron, the two Democratic co-authors of a seminal 1995 paper that proposed overhauling Medicare based on a premium support system, cautioned Monday that the approach wouldn't generate significant savings in the near term. But with varying degrees of enthusiasm, they suggested it might be worth pursuing at some point. Reischauer, a former Congressional Budget Office director who is now a Medicare program trustee, and Aaron, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, spoke at a Washington forum sponsored by America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) (Reichard, 9/10).