News / USA

Health Care Program for Seniors Emerges as Key Election Issue

Greg Flakus
The November U.S. presidential election may turn on how voters react to one key proposal by Republicans involving the  popular Medicare program, which provides government-subsidized health care to citizens 65 years and older. Budget analysts from left and right agree that the program faces financial stress as large numbers of so-called baby boomers reach the age of eligibility. But they disagree on what should be done.

At the University Village Senior Living Community Clinic in Tampa, Florida, Hugh Clark gets his blood checked regularly.

Having had heart problems, he relies on Medicare and opposes any plan to change its status as a government-run program.

"There are some things that are better run by the government than would be run privately," he said.

His friend and neighbor, Ann Cook, agrees. She says she is unimpressed by the Republican promise to preserve the program as it is for those 55 years of age or older.

"I care very much about what happens to coming generations. I am not selfish enough to care only because they say it won't affect us," she said.

But she recognizes the challenge facing the program as government revenues fail to keep up with the numbers of people reaching retirement age.

"You probably have to raise the age incrementally a little bit because people live longer and work longer," she said.

The Republican Medicare reform proposal is contained in a budget plan developed by the party's vice presidential nominee, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, who spoke to the convention here in Tampa Wednesday.

"We had help from Medicare, and it was there, just like it's there for my mom today. Medicare is a promise, and we will honor it," he said.

Ryan's plan would eventually transform Medicare into an agency that provides funds for seniors to use in selecting health insurance from private companies.

Some young people like University of Tampa student Christian Root agree with Republicans about the need to cut federal spending.

But even Root wonders if the Republican plan is fair to his generation.

"If I am going to be paying the same as my parents did, I would like to receive those same benefits because I feel entitled to them," he said.

But Florida Congressman Dennis Ross says the program has to be reformed.

"If we leave it alone, it's going to die. It's going to be bankrupt in 10 years," he said.

Ross says Mitt Romney and Republican candidates for Congress will have to overcome voter fears that Medicare will be destroyed by their plan.

"If we give them an honest assessment of the economic situation, of Medicare today and where it will be next year and how we will ensure it will be there, I believe the American public will be with us," he said.

Ross acknowledges, however, that this may be a tough sell with voters, especially those like Ann Cook. She sees Republicans vowing to eliminate programs like President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act - also known as Obamacare - without offering a clear alternative.

"I have not heard these folks say anything about what they are doing for the uninsured," he said.

In the end, the election may depend on voter perceptions about whether the Republicans offer the best hope to save Medicare or a threat to destroy it.

You May Like

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960s Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More