The Corner

Re: The Democrats’ Growing Medicare Dilemma

Yuval does a great job below of breaking down President Obama’s weak defense — thus far — of his $716 billion in Medicare cuts. I’ve put forth my own contribution to the literature, over at my Apothecary blog at Forbes. Here are the bullet points, based on four defenses that the Obama campaign has employed:

Defense #1. Paul Ryan’s GOP budget preserved Obamacare’s Medicare cuts.

– APOTHEFACT CONCLUSION: Romney’s budget doesn’t preserve Obamacare’s Medicare cuts. Simple as that.

Defense #2. Obamacare’s Medicare cuts don’t harm seniors’ health benefits.

– APOTHEFACT CONCLUSION: Seniors’ benefits won’t change on paper. But they will change in reality, because fewer and fewer doctors will accept their insurance.

Defense #3. Obamacare cuts wasteful spending from the Medicare Advantage program.

– APOTHEFACT CONCLUSION: Medicare Advantage offers seniors higher-quality care at a lower cost than government-run Medicare. Obamacare should have sought to save money by expanding the program, instead of undermining it.

Defense #4. The Romney plan for Medicare is worse, because it would shift costs to seniors.

– APOTHEFACT CONCLUSION: President Obama is not being honest about the Romney Medicare reform plan, which was expressly designed to respond to the cost-shifting critique of the 2011 Ryan plan. The Romney plan preserves Medicare’s benefits without exposing seniors to rising health-care prices.

I conclude:

It’s only been a few days since Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan as his running mate. My strong impression is that a lot of Democrats weren’t even aware that Obamacare cut Medicare by $716 billion, which is why they’ve been caught off-guard by how the 2012 Medicare debate has evolved thus far.

The good news is that we’re having a substantive, policy-based debate about the program. The dream scenario is possible: that the 2012 election gives Medicare reformers a mandate to put the program on permanently stable footing. One might even call it the audacity of hope.

Avik Roy is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the author of The Apothecary, the Forbes blog on health-care and entitlement reform. He is a member of Mitt Romney’s Health Care Policy Advisory Group. You can follow him on Twitter at @aviksaroy.

Avik Roy — Avik Roy is the President of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (FREOPP.org), a non-partisan, non-profit think tank.

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