Democrats think Mitt Romney’s embrace of Paul Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a premium support program is a real political opening for them. It is a very unpopular idea and Democrats think it is a place to show a clear distinction between the parties. The problem, though, is President Obama has a creditability problem in the way he attacks it. From his acceptance speech last night, (via NPR)
And I will never — I will never turn Medicare into a voucher. (Cheers, applause.) No American should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies. They should retire with the care and the dignity that they have earned. Yes, we will reform and strengthen Medicare for the long haul, but we’ll do it by reducing the cost of health care, not by asking seniors to pay thousands of dollars more.
The basic design of Romney’s Medicare plan for future seniors is almost identical to the design of the Affordable Care Act for the currently uninsured under 65. Both give individuals credits based on income level to buy insurance on an exchange. Probably the biggest difference is that based on the few details Romney has provided for his plan, it would provides more protection against insurance companies than Obamacare does. Under Romney’s Medicare plan the exchange would be run by the federal government and would provide an option to buy an insurance plan run by the government.
If Obama is going to claim the design of Romney’s Medicare plan puts people “at the mercy of insurance companies” then it means Obamacare puts non-seniors at the mercy of the insurance companies. Either Obama is lying when he talks about Romney’s Medicare plan or he is lying when he claims his signature legislation protects people from insurance companies.
Obama is taken the weird position that being at the mercy of insurance companies at age 68 would be horrible but at age 64 it is great.