Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Why the fuss over Paul Ryan's Medicare plan? - CBS News

What does Ryan bring to Romney's campaign?

(CBS News) Mitt Romney has notoriously avoided sharing specific policy proposals on the campaign trail, but his new running mate, Paul Ryan, has been notoriously specific about the way he wants to alter Medicare.

Ryan's plan, encapsulated in the 2013 House GOP budget, gives a defined picture of how Republicans want to diverge from the health care policies of the Obama administration. Beyond that, it gives tangible evidence of the "different visions" that President Obama and Mitt Romney purport to represent.

Both Democrats and Republicans have made attempts at reforming Medicare, the popular, federally-run health care program for seniors. And with each attempt, Democrats and Republicans use the issue against one another, charging that the other side is throwing seniors under the bus.

"Make no mistake about it -- these Republicans don't believe in Medicare," Obama campaign senior adviser David Axelrod told CBS This Morning on Monday. "They want to turn it into a voucher program. And slowly, all the burden is going to shift to seniors themselves. And that is not an answer to entitlement reform."

Republicans answer by pointing to the $716 billion in cuts to Medicare that Mr. Obama's own health care plan enacted. They also pat themselves on the back for putting out specific proposals. A web video the Republican National Committee released Monday features Ryan telling a crowd that Democrats "have refused to make difficult decision because they are more worried about their next election than they are about the next generation." By contrast, he says, "We won't duck the tough issues; we will lead."

What's in the Ryan plan?

Ryan, who since 2011 has served as chairman of the House Budget Committee, has led with a controversial budget plan that would turn Medicare into what's called a "premium support" plan -- in other words, instead of paying for the benefits a senior uses, the government offers a senior a predefined amount of money to spend in a health insurance exchange.

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