Romney and his campaign surrogates “need to point out that it was President Obama, not Romney, who cut $700 billion from Medicare to fund other priorities. Listening to [top Democrats] on the Sunday shows, you’d think it was the other way around,” wrote American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Andrew Biggs earlier this week.
To this Democrats would reply, "Yes, the Affordable Care Act did make that reduction. But the money was cut from Medicare payments to hospitals, Medicaid prescription drugs, and reimbursements to private insurance plans under the pilot Medicare Advantage program. It did not come directly from benefits."
(They might also add that both Ryan’s and Obama’s Medicare budgets foresee the same general financial path for the system. Both foresee per-person benefits rising at the rate of increase of the gross domestic product (GDP), plus 0.5 percent. The difference is in how the respective budgets plan to get to that financial goal.)
The second point the ad makes is simple, though made in a subtle way: Current recipients would not be affected by the Romney/Ryan team’s proposed changes. That’s why the ad says the pair would “protect Medicare for today’s seniors.”
That’s true. The Ryan-produced budget passed by the House earlier this year draws the line at age 55. Those 55 or older would not see any change in the Medicare system. Those under 55 would participate in Ryan’s “premium-support” model for the giant government health-care system.
“No one over the age of 55 would be affected in any way,” wrote Mr. Biggs.
But for people under age 55, Medicare would fundamentally change. “Premium support” means “voucher,” in the view of Democrats. Beneficiaries would receive a fixed sum of money from the government to buy private insurance from a Medicare Exchange. (The traditional fee-for-service would be one of the exchange’s options, and the premium would be adjusted for different regional costs and the health of the beneficiary.)