Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Health Care: Vice Presidential Debate & Second Presidential Debate


Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan faced off at the sole Vice Presidential Debate on October 11 in Danville, Kentucky. Biden and Ryan have openly and repeatedly chastised one another’s reform plans, particularly those concerning Medicare and Medicaid. Many anticipated an aggressive debate between the two men vying for the second-highest seat in the land, but what ultimately ensued was perhaps less informative and more diverting.

Ryan highlighted a persistent claim that has become a hallmark of the Romney/Ryan camp. “Obamacare takes $716 billion from Medicare to spend on Obamacare. Even their own chief actuary at Medicare backs this up. He says you can’t spend the same dollar twice. You can’t claim that this money goes to Medicare and Obamacare.”

Ryan’s emphasis on competition and offering choices to Americans echoed his running mate’s statements in the first Presidential Debate two weeks earlier.

“They got caught with their hands in the cookie jar, turning Medicare into a piggybank for Obamacare,” Ryan continued. “Their own actuary from the administration came to Congress and said one out of six hospitals and nursing homes are going to go out of business as a result of this.”

In an evidently hostile exchange, Biden accused Republicans of halting Democratic efforts to enhance Medicare.

“If [Republicans] just allowed Medicare to bargain for the cost of drugs like Medicaid can, that would save $156 billion right off the bat,” Biden said.

“And it would deny seniors choices,” Ryan interjected.

“Seniors are not denied,” Biden interrupted. He glanced into the camera to directly appeal to viewers. “Look, folks, all you seniors out there, have you been denied choices? Have you lost Medicare Advantage?”

“Because it’s working well right now,” Ryan haughtily retorted.

Moderator Martha Raddatz probed Biden asking if he would be willing to compromise and, like Ryan, support slowly raising the Medicare eligibility age, if it were proven to alleviate the greater issue at hand.

Biden immediately launched into a historical narrative of his time spent with President Reagan and Former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill (D-Mass.) reforming Social Security. As he has continually stated throughout this election cycle, Biden said that Romney and Ryan wished to transform Medicare into a voucher program.

“A voucher is you go to your mailbox, get a check, and buy something,” Ryan countered. “Nobody's proposing that.”


The second Presidential Debate, held on October 16 in Hempstead, NY contained nary a mention of the key issues directly affecting American seniors—Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and Obamacare.

President Obama spoke in general terms. “The choice in this election is going to be whose promises are going to be more likely to help you in your life… making sure that you are getting a good-paying job, making sure that Medicare and Social Security will be there for you.”

Governor Romney pushed back and said, “[The] record shows [that President Obama] just hasn’t been able to cut the deficit, to put in place reforms for Medicare and Social Security to preserve them, to get us the rising incomes we need.”


How did you think the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates performed in their latest debates? Let us know, and be sure to check back in with our coverage of the third and final Presidential Debate to be held in Boca Raton, Florida on October 22.

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