VP Candidates Clash Over Medicare Proposals

Font Size:

Candidates dispute impact of Obamacare and Romney-Ryan plan.

Font Size:

The first and only vice presidential debate on Thursday showed Vice President Joe Biden and Representative Paul Ryan disagreeing vehemently about domestic policy issues, including the future of Medicare and the viability of each party’s plan to save it. The candidates, however, largely stayed away from discussing other contentious regulatory matters, such as financial or environmental regulation that received attention in the previous week’s presidential debate.

Representative Ryan chastised the Obama administration for failing to “put a credible solution on the table” to make sure Medicare remains solvent. He attacked the administration for allegedly taking $716 billion from Medicare to help pay for aspects of the Affordable Care Act. He further asserted that this would lead to 7.4 million seniors losing their Medicare Advantage and claimed that the President’s health care plan created a fifteen-member board that would cut Medicare every year, ultimately denying certain care for current recipients.

The Vice President responded that the health care bill actually saved $716 billion by ceasing to overpay insurance companies, doctors, and hospitals. He claimed that the Obama administration put those savings back into Medicare, thereby extending the life of the program until 2024. He further argued that seniors have more benefits available today as a result of health care reform.

The Vice President also asserted that the Romney-Ryan plan created a “voucher system” for Medicare and that the value of the vouchers would not keep up with rising health care costs. He also argued that Congressman Ryan’s own initial voucher plan, which the Vice President claimed Governor Romney supported, would cost an additional $6,400 per year for everyone under 55 once they reached Medicare-eligible age.

Congressman Ryan denied that his plan relied on vouchers and said, instead, that it created “guaranteed coverage options.”  Future Medicare recipients would have the option to chose the traditional Medicare plan or private plans and would receive a subsidy from Medicare to help pay for their premiums. Middle class and poor people would get larger premiums than the wealthy. Furthermore, Ryan stressed that his ticket’s proposed changes would only apply to people who are 54 years old and younger – current Medicare benefits would not change for those 55 and older.

The next presidential debate will be on Tuesday, October 16.