(WASHINGTON) — President Obama is defending his Medicare reforms against Republican attacks, saying he would strengthen and preserve the program while his opponents would “effectively end Medicare as we know it.”
In his weekly address, the president urges Americans to remember “what’s really at stake when we talk about the future of Medicare.”
“It’s 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,” he says.
Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan have been attacking the president for cutting $716 billion from the popular entitlement program. “Over the last few weeks, there’s been a lot of talk about Medicare, with 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,” Obama says.
What the Romney campaign has not mentioned is that Obama’s cuts do not impact Medicare eligibility or benefits. Furthermore, the Ryan budget calls for the same cuts to Medicare that the GOP ticket is attacking the president for making in his health care bill.
“I’ve proposed reforms that will save Medicare money by getting rid of wasteful spending in the health care system and reining in insurance companies — reforms that won’t touch your guaranteed Medicare benefits. Not by a single dime,” he says.
Without calling out his GOP rival by name, the president says Republicans in Congress “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,” he says.
“Our seniors deserve better,” Obama concludes. “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.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Marissa Morrison, KIVI
Tom LoBianco, Deirdre Walsh and Tal Kopan, CNN
Stephen Collinson, CNN