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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Troops Depart

Afghans are grappling with how exodus will affect country's fragile economy More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs