Think the economy is the most hotly debated topic among political parties for the 2012 United States presidential race? Think again. Over the past week, Medicare has been at the center of a firestorm of debate incited by senior members of GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s camp.
The public stance taken by the Romney supporters is noteworthy because for the first time in many years, Republicans are defending Medicare. Historically, Republicans have criticized the program, and on many occasions Democrats have claimed that Republicans would like to see Medicare dismantled entirely. Now, Romney’s team is presenting their party as the program’s would-be savior.
Using a strategy labeled as bold and risky by players on the front lines and political heavyweights on the sidelines of the presidential race, high ranking members in Romney’s camp have charged Democrat endorsed Medicare reforms with weakening the foundation of Medicare, and Medicare Advantage plans in particular.
One of Romney’s top advisors recently accused President Obama of raiding Medicare’s piggy bank and using the $700 billion withdrawn from the program’s financial supply fund health care reform, forcing thousands of senior citizens to look for alternatives to their health insurance coverage.
Democrats have fought back, responding to the claims by arguing that the roughly $700 billion in reductions to projected Medicare growth over the next 10 years are intended to eliminate waste, fraud and subsidies to insurance companies. Benefits to senior citizens were not part of the cuts, according to Democrats’ arguments. Furthermore, Democrats assert, the funds saved by those cuts were funneled back into Medicare.
Ultimately, the fate of Medicare Advantage plans may still be up in the air, as rumblings of appeals were heard from health care reform opponents moments after Supreme Court justices ruled in its favor back in June. In the meantime, senior citizens may find it helpful to educate themselves on the different types of Medicare plans that are currently available.