Press Release             

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Mitchell Clark
Senior Communications Associate
212-204-6286

October 4, 2012

Statement by Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker:
Romney-Ryan Medicare Plan Would Harm Today’s Seniors and Future Beneficiaries

New York, NY –Medicare’s future was front and center during yesterday’s Presidential debate. When the conversation turned to Medicare, Governor Romney stated, “Neither the president nor I are proposing any changes for any current retirees or near retirees, either to Social Security or Medicare. So if you're 60 or around 60 or older, you don't need to listen any further…” Shortly thereafter, President Obama countered, “…so if you're 54 or 55, you might want to listen 'cause this will affect you…”

It is true that Baby Boomers need to listen up, but people of all ages, including today’s 65 and 60 year olds, also need to pay close attention. The Romney-Ryan plan has consequences for Americans of all ages. 

First, the Romney-Ryan plan would create a Medicare voucher program. Older adults and people with disabilities would receive a voucher with which to purchase health care insurance in the private market or to buy coverage through traditional Medicare. Under this system, experts agree that the plans of private insurance companies will attract younger, healthier beneficiaries, leaving older, sicker beneficiaries in traditional Medicare. This trend will cause premiums to increase for those in traditional Medicare. Current beneficiaries who remain in traditional Medicare—not just future enrollees—would shoulder these costs.

Secondly, the Romney-Ryan plan would repeal several Affordable Care Act provisions already helping today’s beneficiaries afford the health care they need. The $716 billion in Medicare savings, discussed last night, do not lead to cuts in any benefits or increases in costs for people with Medicare. Instead, these savings allow Medicare to provide better care and lower costs by making preventive and wellness benefits available at no cost to seniors and people with disabilities and by closing the prescription drug coverage gap (known as the doughnut hole). To date, 5.4 million people with Medicare have saved $4.1 billion dollars on their prescriptions, with far more savings to come. Under the Romney-Ryan plan, these benefits and savings would simply go away.

What’s missing in the dialogue about Medicare’s future is the acknowledgement that every single American household relies on Medicare regardless of where their health benefits come from. People on Medicare care about the health of their children and their grandchildren. For this reason, a debate about Medicare is not just for one generation. It is a debate for every American who desires basic health and economic security. 

 

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Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives.

 

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