WASHINGTON, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday his healthcare policies are saving seniors money but Republicans would "end Medicare as we know it."
In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president said the political debate on Medicare for the past several weeks has featured "a lot of accusations and misinformation flying around. So today I want to step back for a minute and share with you some actual facts and news about the program."
He said figures released this week show the Affordable Care Act has saved seniors more than $4.1 billion on prescription drug expenses, and 18 million seniors this year have benefited from preventive care provisions of the healthcare reform law.
"That's progress," Obama said. "It means that seniors everywhere are getting the care they need for less. And if you have questions about what benefits you're entitled to, you can go to www.medicare.gov to find out."
The president said the Medicare debate is "not about overheated rhetoric at election time. It's about a promise this country made to our seniors that says if you put in a lifetime of hard work, you shouldn't lose your home or your life savings just because you get sick."
"Over the last 47 years, millions of Americans have worked for that promise. They've earned it. And for many seniors, the care they've gotten through Medicare has made all the difference in the world," he said.
"Republicans in Congress have put forward a very different plan," Obama said. "They want to turn Medicare into a voucher program. That means that instead of being guaranteed Medicare, seniors would get a voucher to buy insurance, but it wouldn't keep up with costs. As a result, one plan would force seniors to pay an extra $6,400 a year for the same benefits they get now. And it would effectively end Medicare as we know it.
"I'm willing to work with anyone to keep improving the current system, but I refuse to do anything that undermines the basic idea of Medicare as a guarantee for seniors who get sick," the president said.