Some context on Medicare

Medicare has become another major flashpoint in the campaign, with swing-state seniors opposed to the quasi-voucher proposal put forward by Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan. That's why Romney is stressing the point that nothing will change under his plan if you're already retired. Retired people can settle down. And so can anyone over the age of 55.

The problem is, the Ryan's Medicare plan doesn't save any money until 2022, which is why Ryan's budget includes the $716 billion in Medicare cost savings over the next decade that helped pay for Obamacare, savings that Romney is now bashing Obama for and promising to add back into the budget. Those savings, by the way, do not include direct cuts to benefits for seniors. They are designed to ratchet down government payments to providers, including insurance companies that currently administer the Medicare Advantage program, and hospitals that agreed to accept lower payments in exchange for getting a vast new pool of insured people under the new law. However, official budget analysts say it's going to be enormously difficult to achieve all of the savings without driving providers out of the program. And that could cause problems for retired people.  

Lori Montgomery covers U.S. economic policy and the federal budget, focusing on efforts to tame the national debt.

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