The Never Ending Healthcare Battle

Advocates Hope Next Debate Keeps Focus on Dueling Medicare Plans

 It was the subject of heated exchanges in the vice presidential debate, and health advocates are hoping both parties’ dueling health-reform plans get even more serious scrutiny in Tuesday night’s Obama-Romney rematch.

During the vice presidential debate, Republican nominee Paul Ryan accused the current administration of having an “Obamacare Board” that would “lead to denied care for seniors.” Marc Steinberg, deputy director of health policy with Families USA, says more than 1 million seniors and New Yorkers with disabilities stand to lose valuable benefits under Romney’s approach.
“So 1,491,000 people with Medicare in New York got free preventive services in 2011, but under the Romney plan, Medicare would again start charging cost-sharing for these services.”

Romney has indicated there are “some parts” of the Affordable Care Act he would like to preserve, but he has yet to be specific as to how his plan would pay for them. Romney and Obama meet again Oct. 16 in New York to debate foreign and domestic policy.

Repealing the Affordable Care Act is a top Romney priority. Steinberg says that would mean more than 200,000 New Yorkers would cease getting help with their prescription drug costs, and more negative changes would be in store for many New Yorkers.

“There are other problems, too, including changes to Medicaid, changes to the life of the trust fund, and Medicare premiums going up – all of which matter to people with Medicare today.”

Romney says his plan will prevent the system from going bankrupt, but Steinberg says Medicare actuaries have computed that Romney’s plan to end “Obamacare” would actually shorten the life of the Medicare Trust Fund, so that it would run short of funds by 2016.

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