Romney slams Obama over Medicare, pledges more help for 'poor' and 'sick'
By Ian Johnston, NBC News, and wire services
Mitt Romney attacked President Barack Obama Saturday over the future of Medicare in his first weekly podcast ahead of the November election.
In the address posted on his website, the GOP's presidential candidate said Obama’s healthcare law had taken $716 billion from the fund to finance “his takeover of the healthcare system.”
“Now if that wasn’t bad enough, his healthcare law also put in place a board of 15 unelected bureaucrats and gave them the power to make additional cuts to Medicare without even having to get approval from Congress,” he said.
“This means they could deny elderly Americans the care they’ve worked for their entire lives -- all because President Obama trusts bureaucrats more than he trusts seniors and their doctors,” he said.
“And here’s one more troubling aspect of all this: According to independent, non-partisan scorekeepers, these cuts the President’s people will take to Medicare won’t prevent it from going bankrupt: Experts estimate that Medicare’s trust funds will be exhausted just twelve short years from now,” Romney added.
The Democrats charge that Mitt Romney and Ryan would gut programs for older Americans such as Medicare and Social Security.
Obama plans to dig in on that point in New Hampshire on Saturday with stops in Windham and Rochester. Aides say he will cast voters' choice as one between two very different approaches to government, The Associated Press reported.
The Obama campaign has claimed Romney's running mate Paul Ryan was forced to "flip flop" on Medicare by the GOP candidate. And Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) said the Romney-Ryan plan would "hasten the insolvency of the Medicare program by 8 years, that's according to the Medicare trustees."
On the campaign trail this week, Romney said the Romney-Ryan plan to transform Medicare was "very similar" to Medicare Advantage.
But Marsha Gold, a health-care expert at Mathematica Policy Research, said the big difference between the two is this: Medicare Advantage, like Medicare, is a defined benefit -- where the government guarantees a level of coverage -- while the Romney-Ryan plan transforms Medicare into a defined contribution -- where the government decides what it will pay.
In the podcast Saturday, Romney reiterated a pledge to repeal “Obamacare” – that he characterized as “threatening seniors” and “a maze of new federal mandates, and taxes, and penalties that’s hampering job creation” – and work on “real solutions to save Medicare.”
Romney added that the plan would not change Medicare for those who are retired or “near” retirement.
For “younger Americans,” he said future retirees would be provided with federal financial support and would be able to choose from a list of Medicare-approved coverage plans, including a traditional Medicare option.
“The amount of financial support that a person would get would be adjusted based on their income; more help would go to the poor or the sick -- and less help would go to those that are financially better off,” Romney added.
“It would be based on how much the plans cost so that seniors always have access to affordable, quality coverage. And no senior could ever be denied coverage for any reason,” he said.