Romney: Medicare Advantage will cost more

Aug. 16, 2012 at 5:38 PM
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BOSTON, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- The Romney campaign Thursday said President Obama's healthcare reform plan will hurt U.S. seniors by making Medicare Advantage plans too expensive.

Medicare has become a hot topic since presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney selected Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as his running mate. Ryan crafted a budget proposal that would turn Medicare into a voucher system, virtually dismantling the direct-pay model currently in operation.

The campaign released an undated video clip of Romney during a press availability in Greer, S.C., talking about the amount of money the Affordable Care Act takes from Medicare -- a point disputed by White House spokesman Jay Carney.

"The president's plan cuts Medicare, by $716 billion, cut. In addition, the trustees of Medicare estimate that approximately 4 million people will lose their coverage under Medicare Advantage. This is the plan they've chosen that shows they prefer some 4 million current seniors will lose their Medicare Advantage plan. And finally, the Medicare actuary estimates that 15 percent of hospitals and nursing homes will stop taking Medicare patients," Romney said.

During the daily press briefing, however, Carney disputed Romney's take, saying the Republican plan to turn Medicare into a voucher system would do more harm and result in seniors seeing their costs rise by $6,400 a year.

Carney said the Affordable Care Act actually extends the life of Medicare by eight years. Repealing the ACA, as Republicans have pledged to do, and instituting a voucher system would trim Medicare's viability by eight years. The most recent trustees report said Medicare would run out of money by 2024 if no changes are made.

"What we cannot do is eliminate Medicare," Carney said. "What we cannot do is turn Medicare into a voucher system and basically tell seniors, you know what, the way we're going to deal with this problem is not find savings within the system, not reduce the cost of healthcare, but just basically shift it to you, so that your elderly relatives are going to have to -- would have to pay, or you when you get older would have to pay $6,400 extra per year for your healthcare. There are a lot of seniors out there who will not be able to afford that."

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