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Reform Law is Biggest Threat to Medicare: Paul Ryan

August 30, 2012
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Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) energized the crowd at the Republican National Convention on August 29 when he said the greatest threat to Medicare is the 2010 healthcare law that has become the hallmark legislation of the Obama administration.

"Obamacare comes to more than 2,000 pages of rules, mandates, taxes, fees and fines that have no place in a free country," the Republican Party's vice presidential nominee told an audience that erupted in cheers and applause.

As chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan drafted budgets for fiscal years 2012 and 2013 that include plans to overhaul the nation's federal healthcare entitlement programs through a premium-support model for Medicare and block grant payments to states for Medicaid. Both of those ideas have become a part of the GOP's official party platform, which was released Tuesday.

Democrats have said the premium-support plan would increase costs to seniors and spell the end of the Medicare program. The issue promises to maintain a permanent place as a top domestic policy issue throughout the campaign until the November 6 election.

"The president has declared that the debate over government-controlled healthcare is over," Ryan said. "That will come as news to the millions of Americans who will elect Mitt Romney so we can repeal Obamacare."

Ryan then criticized the president for funneling $716 billion out of the Medicare program to pay for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. "An obligation we have to our parents and grandparents is being sacrificed," Ryan said, "all to pay for a new entitlement we didn't even ask for. The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we're going to stop it."

The Wisconsin Republican also struck a personal note when he said the Medicare program helped his grandmother Janet, who had Alzheimer's disease, and is now there for his mother Betty, a Florida resident. A Romney-Ryan administration, he said, will "protect and strengthen" Medicare for generations to come.

"So our opponents can consider themselves on notice," Ryan said. "In this election, on this issue, the usual posturing for the left isn't going to work. Mitt Romney and I know the difference between protecting a program and raiding it," he continued. "Ladies and gentlemen, our nation needs this debate. We want this debate. We will win this debate."

The GOP convention concludes August 30 in Tampa, Florida, where former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will accept his party's nomination for president.

Jessica Zigmond writes for Modern Healthcare, a sister publication of Workforce Management. Comment below or email editors@workforce.com.

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