VP debate excerpts – Medicare

Edited by Jenny Jiang

Excerpts from the Oct. 11, 2012 vice presidential debate on Medicare:

PAUL RYAN: Here’s the problem. They got caught with their hands in the cookie jar, turning Medicare into a piggybank for Obamacare. Their own actuary from the administration came to Congress and said one out of six hospitals and nursing homes are going to go out of business as a result of this.

JOE BIDEN: That’s not what they said.

RYAN: 7.4 million seniors are projected to lose their current Medicare Advantage coverage they have. That’s a $3,200 benefit cut.

BIDEN: That didn’t happen.

RYAN: What we’re saying…

BIDEN: More people signed up.

RYAN: These are from your own actuaries.

BIDEN: More — more — more people signed up for Medicare Advantage after the change.

RYAN: What — there’s…

BIDEN: Nobody is…


RYAN: Mr. Vice President, I know…

BIDEN: No, this is…


RYAN: Mr. Vice President, I know you’re under a lot of duress to make up for lost ground, but I think people would be better served if we don’t keep interrupting each other.

BIDEN: Well, don’t take all the four minutes then.

RYAN: Let me just — let me just say this. We are not — we’re saying don’t change benefits for people 55 and above. They already organized their retirement around these promises.


RYAN: … programs for those of us.

MARTHA RADDATZ: But let — let me ask you this. What — what is your specific plan for seniors who really can’t afford to make up the difference in the value of what you call a premium support plan and others call a voucher?

RYAN: Hundred percent coverage…

RADDATZ: And what…


RYAN: That’s what we’re saying. So we’re saying…

RADDATZ: How do you make that up?

RYAN: … income adjusts (inaudible) these premium support payments by taking down the subsidies for wealthy people.

Look, this is a plan — by the way, that $6,400 number, it was misleading then, it’s totally inaccurate now. This is a plan that’s bipartisan. It’s a plan I put together with a prominent Democrat senator from Oregon.

BIDEN: There’s not one Democrat who endorses it.

RYAN: It’s a plan…

BIDEN: Not one Democrat who (inaudible).

RYAN: Our partner is a Democrat from Oregon.

BIDEN: And he said he does no longer support (inaudible).

RYAN: We — we — we put it — we put it together with the former Clinton budget director.

BIDEN: Who disavows it.

RYAN: This idea — this idea came from the Clinton commission to save Medicare chaired by Senator John Breaux.

Here’s the point, Martha.

BIDEN: Which was rejected.

RYAN: If we don’t — if we don’t fix this problem pretty soon then current seniors get cut. Here’s the problem: 10,000 people are retiring every single day in America today and they will for 20 years. That’s not a political thing, that’s a math thing.

BIDEN: Martha, if we just did one thing, if we just — if they just allowed Medicare to bargain for the cost of drugs like Medicaid can, that would save $156 billion right off the bat.

RYAN: And it would deny seniors choices.

BIDEN: All — all — all…

RYAN: It has a restricted…


BIDEN: Seniors are not denied.

RYAN: Absolutely.

BIDEN: They are not denied.

Look, folks, all you seniors out there, have you been denied choices? Have you lost Medicare Advantage.

RYAN: Because it’s working well right now.


BIDEN: Because we’ve changed the law.


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