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Romney-Ryan’s Voucher Plan for Medicare, Long the Third Rail of Florida Politics

| August 31, 2012

saving medicare lyndon johnson

They’re looking for Lyndon Johnson. (longislandwins)

For years, Medicare was part of the “third rail” of Florida politics – the untouchable subject in a state with so many elderly voters.

For the Romney-Ryan ticket, it apparently won’t be.

GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan said in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night that the debate over Medicare is one that the nation must have, and signaled there’s no intent to shy away from proposals by both Ryan and presidential candidate Mitt Romney that would change Medicare to a “fixed-amount” grant that seniors could use to get private insurance, or as some would call it, a voucher program.

Florida Republicans at the convention have acknowledged – at least some of them – that the issue is dicey in the huge swing state that also happens to be loaded with people who rely on Medicare. The Romney proposal wouldn’t affect them – it wouldn’t apply, if put in place, to anyone now over age 55, under the candidate’s current plan.

But for those who have long taken it for granted that expensive health care for older Americans will be paid for directly by the government in the same way it has been for years, the prospect will still make some nervous, even if they won’t be personally affected. The details – including the critical one about who would be included and who wouldn’t – may get lost in the din of a campaign.

“It doesn’t scare me,” Barbara Sullivan, a resident of the big retirement community The Villages, said this week after attending a breakfast event with the Florida delegation.

She said she appreciated Ryan’s “honesty” in being willing to talk about the issue, and even went to see Ryan when he appeared in The Villages shortly after being named as Romney’s running mate.


She also actively pays attention to politics, so she can rattle off the GOP talking points – that if the entitlement program isn’t changed, it ultimately will be in danger anyway.

She also is familiar with the other Republican claim, that the Obama administration is also endangering Medicare, by siphoning money from the program to help pay for the federal health care law.

Republicans say President Obama’s plan reduces the future growth of Medicare by more than $700 billion, which Ryan said was sacrificing Medicare “to pay for a new entitlement that we didn’t even ask for.”

The Obama campaign says the Medicare savings, contained in the health-care overhaul the president signed into law in 2010, will come from efficiencies and not reduced benefits.

But while Sullivan says talk by Republicans of a fundamental overhaul of Medicare doesn’t scare her – she acknowledges that it might actually give another group some difficulties: younger voters.

“It scares my grandchildren,” Sullivan admitted. But she said, making changes that affect future beneficiaries is smart. “They’ll have enough time to work it out,” before they reach Medicare eligibility age, she said.

Some Florida Republican politicians – particularly younger ones – appear ready to go along with the Romney-Ryan message on Medicare changes, even though they live and have to run for election in a state where the issue has long been so off limits.

“You have to address this issue head-on,” said Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, one of the state’s top ranking GOP politicians, who also served with Ryan on the Budget Committee when he was in Congress. “You have to make changes … preserve Medicare. I think the electorate has matured. It’s a highly sensitive issue, but people understand reforms need to be made to save it.”

Obama Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter told reporters in Tampa on Thursday that Republicans trying to win Florida “know how vulnerable they are about their plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program and how vulnerable they are with seniors.”

–David Royce, News Service of Florida

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16 Responses for “Romney-Ryan’s Voucher Plan for Medicare, Long the Third Rail of Florida Politics”

  1. sam8131 says:

    Hey everyone; Medicare has been projected to be out of money by 2024. No worries, let’s just kick it further down the road.

  2. Dorothea says:

    If vouchers are such a great idea, why not initiate the plan now? There are plenty of ways to reform Medicare without destroying it with vouchers. Selfish seniors that are willing to sell out their kids and grandkids, while reaping the benefits of Medicare for themselves, make me sick.

    • bob ruehl says:

      With a voucher system it will save it for our kids and grandkids.Us seniors are not selfish.You sound like you are young and forget its the seniors to thank for your freedom.We still pay real estate taxes the help educate the young.We have paid into all of our lives.

      • Dorothea says:

        @bob ruehl:

        I am a senior, but no one has to thank me for their freedom. Like most people, I have willingly paid my fair share of taxes and always supported our public school system whether my kids were in public school, private school, or not in the school district at all. Right now I have the best health insurance in the world, Medicare. I want the same for my kids and grandkids and we don’t need vouchers to accomplish this, just reasonable reforms to the Medicare system.

    • sam8131 says:

      Let’s do it. You do realize that the new Rayn plan gives the option of using vouchers or sticking with the current program don’t you?

  3. Outsider says:

    What makes me sick is selling out the seniors who have worked hard and paid their taxes all their lives so we can insure millions who never have. And no, I’m not a senior and would be affected by the change. It’s about time someone has the cajones to tackle tough issues head on. I’m tired of being treated like a child, when the numbers make it obvious noone will have any benefits if changes aren’t made now. Obama is trying to be Santa Claus to everyone using China as the credit card. I was disappointed Trump didn’t show up to the convention and say, “Mr. President: YOU’RE FIRED!”

  4. Lonewolf says:

    The Romney proposal wouldn’t affect them – it wouldn’t apply, if put in place, to anyone now over age 55, under the candidate’s current plan.

    Really? Do you trust the GOP enough to believe that they won’t change this to EVERYONE? We KNOW the Dems won’t do anything like this.

  5. Dadgum says:

    That’s why Romney and these Republicans need to be dealt a swift exit at the polls. They are dangerous and detrimental to one’s health. The Bush Bros pushed vouchers for schools. Nothing more than racism. They also pushed for investing your social security in the stock market. Tell that to young people Republicans and ask them what they think of your schemes.

  6. Sad Times says:

    A question to you, Republican “congress people”….. if your changes to medicare are so great…..does this mean that you, too, will be using this new “medicare program”?……and, thus, doing away with the
    medical system you now enjoy?!!!!!

    I look forward to your responses!

  7. Puddin says:

    “That’s why Romney and these Republicans need to be dealt a swift exit at the polls. They are dangerous and detrimental to one’s health. The Bush Bros pushed vouchers for schools. Nothing more than racism. They also pushed for investing your social security in the stock market. Tell that to young people Republicans and ask them what they think of your schemes. ”

    What a load of crap talking points from the libs…forget about it.

  8. Binkey says:

    Voucher plan appears to put future seniors healthcare at risk. More details are needed to know that the guarantee the government now provides for senior healthcare will not become a subsidy for the well to do and worthless to those who cannot afford to pay for the better plans.

  9. John Boy says:

    Every Republican since Ronnie Boy have been pushing for privatizing everything. They simply want private business to succeed at the cost of the public’s detriment.Anyone with half a brain would see through this ideology and reject all Republicans and Tea Baggers. They are solely interested in making the United States of America the equivalent of Somalia.

  10. Deep South says:

    I have never been a advocate of Social Security or Medicare. I never thought it was intended for the government to provide a health or retirement plan. I always felt it was the individual responsibility to establish their own retirement plan and not seek the aid of our government. Big mistake to ever allow government to assist.

    • Deep South says:

      To further my comment I was taught in Civics Class that Social Security was established to help those in Industrial Disasters, Disabilities caused by accidents. Unemployment, assists Mothers and Children apron the death of spouse. Never intended for a retirement or health plan for HEALTHY SENIORS. Too many seniors expected their government to take care of them, because they did not plan their own future. Was my college professor wrong ?

      • Heaven says:

        Oh so if a Industrial disasters, Disabilities caused by accidents, And unemployment, or death of a spouse dont happen… can i get my thousands of dollars that they taken from me over the years… Because i know for damn sure if they going to take it out of my check i better be able to use my money that is owed to me…..Using my own money or A senior collecting SOCIAL SECURITY IS NOT A HAND OUT…ITS THEIR MONEY THAT THEY PUT IN…..

      • Riley says:

        I would expect that your college professor was making over $100,000 a year and had a great retirement plan or other perks from the university and could afford to invest his money. Good for him, but not everyone makes that kind of money. Many make little more than the poverty level.

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