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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ryan Takes to Pennsylvania to Push Medicare Message


WEST CHESTER, Pa. - Representative Paul D. Ryan customized from his menu of attacks on President Obama to fit a full day of campaigning in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, putting state-specific numbers on his assertion that current Medicare beneficiaries will suffer benefit cuts under the 2010 health care law.

“In Pennsylvania, 38 percent of Pennsylvania seniors choose to get their Medicare from a plan called Medicare Advantage,” Mr. Ryan said here. “Forty-seven percent of them are going to lose it under Obamacare, according to Medicare, by 2017.”

Mr. Ryan was extrapolating from a 2010 report from Medicare's Office of the Actuary. It analyzed the potential impact of lower premium supports paid to private companies that issue Medicare Advantage plans, popular alternatives to traditional Medicare with extra benefits such as gym memberships. To slow the growth of Medicare spending, the Affordable Care Act reduces support for the private plans, which Democrats consider inefficient. Beneficiaries would still be covered under traditional Medicare.

But Mr. Ryan and Mitt Romney have raised the charge that the health care overhaul “raided” Medicare to help pay for “Obamacare.”

“The next time you hear from President Obama, tell him to keep his hands off Medicare,'' Mr. Ryan said, continuing to turn the tables on an issue that many strategists expected to be a weakness for the Republican ticket with Mr. Ryan coming aboard, because of his signature plan to turn Medicare into an optional voucherlike system.

The risk was highlighted by a new poll on Tuesday from the Pew Research Center that showed of those who have heard of Mr. Ryan's plan, 49 percent oppose such a reform and 34 percent favor it.

Speaking to a boisterous crowd outside a helicopter museum here west of Philadelphia, Mr. Ryan also needled Mr. Obama over one of his best-remem bered gaffes of the 2008 campaign. Mr. Ryan also customized the line for his local audience.

“You remember that one where he said people in places like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, we cling to our guns and our religion?'' he said. “Hey. As a Catholic deer hunter: guilty as charged.''