Given the continued high rate of unemployment it may be surprising that the apparent focus of the upcoming presidential election will not be jobs and the economy; instead, President Obama and Republican presumptive candidate Mitt Romney are fighting over Medicare.
Romney fired the first salvo over the weekend when he announced his running mate would be Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who has taken an interest in fixing Medicare and changing the way it is run. Ryan’s conservative plan would partially privatize the program.
Medicare is going to be a big issue this election for those ages 50 and older, according to AARP. And prior to this weekend, older Americans had been unhappy with the lack of attention both candidates had paid to the slowly expiring program.
Romney has already said multiple times that he plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act if he is elected. Now he is adding that repealing the health care law would put $716 billion of Medicare spending back — a number provided by the Congressional Budget Office on July 24.
However, that could backfire. According to the Associated Press, the Medicare cuts extended the life of the program and Romney’s move would cause the fund to run out of money in 2016 instead of 2024.
According to AP:
“Obama's cuts were not directly aimed at Medicare's 48 million beneficiaries; instead they affect hospitals, insurers, nursing homes, drug companies and other service providers. Simply undoing the cuts would restore higher payments to those service providers. And that would cause Medicare to spend money faster.”