In probably the most interesting political theatre match of our time, we saw two Presidential candidates grapple with health care positions that left both political parties at odds. Obama, having pushed for a very centrist healthcare reform bill actually modeled after Romney’s plan for Massachusetts, had to urge Democrats to fight for a bill that many did not think went far enough. The bill left out the quintessential provision of a “public opinion”.
On the opposite end of the spectrum was Mitt Romney, who authored and signed his own healthcare bill with a Democratic-led legislature. Romney famously argued throughout the Republican primary process that he would repeal Obama’s bill, a law that closely and ironically mimicked the bill he had signed just four years prior. To make matters even more confusing, Romney stated in an interview on Meet the Press that he did not intend to repeal all the provisions of Obama’s law and would actually keep certain components in place. Some of these details included the elimination of denial of coverage based upon pre-existing conditions and maintaining the ability for people to enroll their dependents up to a higher age.
In the end, what both Presidential candidates actually agreed upon was a reduction to Medicare. Obama’s healthcare bill reduced growth of Medicare by withholding payments to health companies and hospitals that estimated roughly $716 billion in savings over a ten-year span. Likewise, Romney backed a budget plan that would transform Medicare into a voucher system for Americans under the age of 55. This would produce estimated savings of $700 billion, predominately originating from costs shifts from the Federal government to Medicare recipients.