KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

VP Candidates Spar Over Medicare Plan Specifics

During last night's face off, Vice President Joe Biden and GOP vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan offered different plans, visions and, sometimes, even numbers for Medicare's future.  

The New York Times: Bipartisan Spin On Medicare Plan
As Representative Paul D. Ryan debated Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday night, he sometimes seemed to be defending his own past budget and Medicare proposals as much as his running mate's plans — sometimes in misleading ways (Cooper, Weisman and Schmitt, 10/12).

Politico: Medicare Cage Match: Biden Vs. Ryan
Joe Biden and Paul Ryan say they want the same thing for seniors: to make sure Medicare and Social Security are still around for future generations. ... In their vice presidential debate Thursday night, Biden accused Ryan and Mitt Romney of trying to dismantle the companion retirement programs. Ryan countered that Biden and President Barack Obama would let them die from neglect. Their hot exchanges lit up the debate hall and illuminated just how hard the two campaigns are fighting over the votes of senior citizens, particularly in swing states, like Florida and Ohio, where their votes could be crucial on Election Day (Allen, 10/10).

NPR: Biden, Ryan Bent The Truth At Times, Fact Checkers Say
As expected, Vice President Biden and GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan both crossed through some heavily disputed territory. They argued over the $716 billion in reduced Medicare spending that's part of the affordable health care law. And they traded barbs over whether the Republican ticket's plan for overhauling Medicare is a "voucher" program that would effectively replace the guaranteed benefit (Memmott and Montgomery, 10/ 11).

Los Angeles Times: Fact Check: Ryan Misrepresents Effect Of His Medicare Plan
Rep. Paul D. Ryan claimed inaccurately that the Medicare plan he and Gov. Mitt Romney have proposed would preserve seniors' access to the current Medicare program and would not affect  current retirees (Levey, 10/11).

Politico Pro: What Biden And Ryan Said, And What They Meant
What Ryan said: "If you reform these programs for my generation, people 54 and below, you can guarantee they don't change for people in or near retirement, which is precisely what Mitt Romney and I are proposing." Why he said it: Romney and Ryan need seniors to feel protected from any changes to the Medicare benefits they're already enjoying. Romney also needs to preserve the power of his other charge: That unlike his plan, President Barack Obama does cut Medicare for current seniors. What he didn't say: If future retirees start switching to private plans ... some analysts have warned that seniors in traditional Medicare will have trouble finding doctors. ... What Biden said: "We cut the cost of Medicare. We stopped overpaying insurance companies, doctors and hospitals. The AMA supported what we did. AARP endorsed what we did." Why he said it: The best defense against Ryan's attacks on Obama's Medicare cuts is to point out that two respected nationwide groups ... supported the health care law. What he didn't say: AARP has asked the Obama administration to stop using its name to promote the law (Nather, 10/11).

National Journal: What AARP Has To Do With Vice Presidential Debate Between Biden And Ryan
There are two things to know about one of Washington's biggest advocacy groups, AARP, and tonight's vice presidential debate. First is that the organization doesn't endorse presidential candidates. Second is that AARP is a sponsor of tonight's clash between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan at Centre College in Danville, Ky. So, the advocacy group that represents nearly 37 million members doesn't have a horse in this race? Not exactly. "Our goal is to get these candidates to really talk about these issues a little more fully than they have in the past," AARP Senior Vice President John Hishta told the Alley (Catalini, 10/11).

Modern Healthcare: Medicare Heats Up Biden-Ryan Debate
Medicare was one of the biggest flashpoints during the election's first and only vice presidential debate Thursday night. The Medicare segment of the debate included some of the most frequent interruptions by both Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in a testy debate as each took turns bashing the other side's impacts on the program. Ryan blasted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for cutting $716 billion from Medicare's growth over the next 10 years and for creating the Independent Payment Advisory Board to reduce future Medicare growth (Daly, 10/11).

Politico Pro: Biden, Ryan Clash Over Medicare
Vice President Joe Biden used Thursday night's debate to tell seniors to judge for themselves whether they have more benefits under the health care law, dismissing Paul Ryan's criticism of the law as the same thing he heard from Sarah Palin four years ago. "Any senior out there, ask yourself, do you have more benefits today? You do," Biden said. "If you're near the doughnut hole, you have $600 more to help your prescription drug costs. You get wellness visits without co-pays. They wipe all of this out, and Medicare becomes insolvent in 2016." Medicare and the health care law sparked some of the feistiest arguments in the vice presidential debate Thursday night (Haberkorn, 10/11).

Medscape: Biden, Ryan Come Out Swinging On Medicare In Debate
In their one and only debate, Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R-WI) tonight tried to portray each other as Medicare wreckers, and themselves as Medicare saviors. ... For his part, Ryan remained cool and firm despite Biden's rhetorical fire, interruptions, and good-natured cackling. ... Ryan repeated the Romney charge that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) cut $716 billion from Medicare to pay for "Obamacare." Biden countered that the cuts did not affect seniors' benefits, which he said have grown under the law. "Do you have more benefits today," he asked, looking at the television camera. "You do." He cited lower costs in the Medicare Part D drug program and free wellness visits as examples (Lowes, 10/12).

The Hill: Biden On Medicare: 'Who Do You Trust?'
Vice President Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) clashed Thursday night over Medicare, as Biden charged that Republicans have never cared much for the program. "These guys haven't been big on Medicare from the beginning," Biden said. Ryan, the architect of House Republicans' controversial plan to partially privatize Medicare, sought to personalize the issue, and opened with an assault on the $716 billion in Medicare cuts in President Obama's healthcare law. "Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt. These are indisputable facts," Ryan said (Baker, 10/11).

The Washington Post: Fact Check: That Medicare Debate
While it is correct that anticipated savings from Medicare were used to help offset some of the anticipated costs of expanding health care for all Americans, it does not affect the Medicare trust fund. Ryan, as House Budget Committee chairman, probably knows he's playing a rhetorical game here. Federal budget accounting is so complex that it is easy to mislead ordinary Americans — a tactic used by both parties (Kessler, 10/11).

Medpage Today: Biden, Ryan Trade Barbs And Claims
Dueling plans for the future of Medicare took stage Thursday night in the only vice presidential debate, with the candidates' words mostly reflecting their campaigns' messages thus far. Vice President Joe Biden denounced the Republican plan to transform Medicare into a premium-support model for those 54 and younger, saying it would shift the escalating costs of healthcare away from the government and onto beneficiaries. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) countered by charging that the Obama-Biden approach is bankrupting Medicare (Pittman, 10/11).

The Medicare NewsGroup: Biden, Ryan Debate The Best Fix For Medicare's Future
Medicare heated up the October 12 vice presidential debate as Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan sparred over the best way control Medicare costs, extend the program's life, and protect the benefits of future beneficiaries. Ryan repeated the often-heard claim that the Obama administration cut Medicare by $716 billion through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Biden defended the law—the Obama administration’s signature domestic achievement--saying it extends the life of Medicare by guaranteeing solvency through 2024 while giving seniors enhanced benefits such as wellness visits, certain cancer screenings and shrinking out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs. Ryan said the best way to protect Medicare is by reforming the program for future beneficiaries (Szot, 10/11).

The Medicare NewsGroup: Timeline: The History Of Premium Support
Although premium support is currently a point of heated debate between Democrats and Republicans, the concept has a history of bipartisan collaboration. The timeline below shows how the premium support concept progressed from a bipartisan reform approach to a deeply partisan issue (10/11).

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.