Now watch Stephanie Cutter's cogent rebuttal:
Ms. Cutter gets it almost exactly right, with one caveat: Mitt Romney is trying to distance himself from the Ryan Budget -- which he already praised -- because of the Medicare-to-vouchers plan that grows more toxic each day. Mitt hasn't quite ditched it, so we don't know his plan, except that he does draw a distinction between seniors 55 and older and the rest of Americans, just as Ryan does when discussing the voucher program, which he plans only for those 54 and younger. So Romney seems aboard with that timetable.
We actually do know something of his plan, which is to offer choice to those currently 54 or younger between keeping traditional Medicare or using the vouchers to purchase private insurance. He says there will be savings because now private insurance companies can compete with the government plan, and competition is always good, right?
The section from 2:15 to about 3:30 has Romney explaining the tweaks he adds to the Ryan plan, which is the competition between government and private insurance. But then he goes and completely mischaracterizes Medicare Advantage as being like his plan to offer a choice of private insurance. It isn't. Romney falsely claims that Obama's cuts will cause 4 million seniors to lose their Medicare Advantage as if they actually have any change in coverage, which they won't. What will happen is that Medicare Advantage programs, which currently serve about 25% of seniors will lose their subsidies to guarantee services. If these private Medicare programs want to retain their market share, it's more than likely that they'll find ways of offering their services at current co-pays.
Romney is attempting to hijack Medicare Advantage as a way to pretend he's offering private insurance as a Medicare choice, which he isn't. Let's spell it out:
- Obama stops subsidies to Medicare Advantage providers in order to create savings which, with other savings totaling $716 billion, allows him to extend Medicare solvency by eight years.
- Medicare Advantage is, like traditional Medicare, a defined-benefit system.
- Romney's private option is nothing like Medicare Advantage. Instead, he offers a private-insurance option with vouchers that help seniors pay for it, with no guarantee that the amount will be enough in future years. So Romney's so-called Medicare Advantage is a premium-support plan with added expense to seniors, While Obama's plan continues to be a defined-benefit program with no cuts in services to seniors.
- Romney's whole effort is to privatize Medicare, with costs to seniors rising over the years.
- Romney promises to restore the Obama cuts, thus reducing the years Medicare can remain solvent.