When former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan to be his running mate in the 2012 United States Presidential election, he guaranteed that Medicare would become a central battleground of the campaign. Ryan, a veteran Congressman from Wisconsin, is widely known for his efforts to turn the federal Medicare program into a voucher program (with the value of the vouchers deliberately calibrated not to keep up with health care costs over time), a transformation that would change everything about Medicare except its name.
Ryan’s proposal is sufficiently controversial that the Romney/Ryan camp has gone to significant lengths to distance itself from it – refusing to use the word “vouchers,” for example, which they evidently believe is toxic politically. At the same time, the Republican team’s strategists have made a point of highlighting the decreases in Medicare spending that have been projected as a result of various cost-saving measures in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, calling those measures “cuts in Medicare” for which President Obama should be blamed. Both parties apparently believe that there is such strong support among likely voters to preserve Medicare that they must try to convince voters that the other candidate is going to gut the program, even though only the Republican side has ever proposed actually doing so. Continue reading "Does Anyone Really Understand Medicare? Richard Kaplan Does, and You Can, Too"