FOX19 Investigation: False Medicare claims by Dems and GOP

FOX19 Investigation: False Medicare claims by Dems and GOP

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Get ready to hear a lot about Medicare, the federal government's healthcare program for America's senior citizens.

The problem is, it might not be around for those of us who are currently still working if something isn't done to keep it from going broke.

Enter, on stage right, Rep. Paul Ryan.

He's the Wisconsin congressman in charge of writing the budget for the entire U.S. government who was picked over the weekend to be Gov. Mitt Romney's running mate on the Republican presidential ticket.

Both last year and this year, Ryan wrote separate plans that he said would save the country from a looming fiscal crisis. What got a lot of attention in both plans is what Ryan would do about Medicare.

To understand why this gets so much attention, you first have to understand how important it is to the people who are on it.

According to the independent Kaiser Family Foundation, 50% of the people on Medicare have incomes below $22,000 a year. Half of Medicare recipients also have less than $53,000 in their savings account.

Yet even though they're in a government program, they still have to spend an average of $4,620 a year on healthcare costs out of their own pockets. That's almost as much as they pay for food.

That's why people get very nervous when someone starts talking about tinkering with Medicare.

But Rep. Ryan says he would not change anything for people already covered by the program.

"We need to preserve their benefits because (the) government made promises to them that they've organized retirements around," he told CBS's "60 Minutes" Sunday night. "In order to make sure we can do that, you must reform it for those of us who are younger."

Ryan also mentioned that his mother is on Medicare in Florida.

In his latest plan, Rep. Ryan wants to offer future senior citizens (those who are currently 54-years-old and younger) a choice. They could either use Medicare or pick a private insurance plan, which the government would help pay for.

The question is, though, how much would we have to pay for ourselves?

Democrats say our bill would be $6,000 higher under Ryan's plan.

But says that's not true under the 2012 version of Ryan's plan.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has crunched the numbers and what they've come up with suggests a 66-year-old in 2030 might be left having to come up with an extra $2,200 on top of what senior citizens already pay out-of-pocket today.

$2,000 or $6,000?

Whatever your viewpoint, Pres. Obama's campaign wasted no time today in getting a new ad up on YouTube, scary music and all. In the ad, the campaign uses soundbites from Ryan, Romney, and talking heads to try to make their case that Ryan's changes are too radical. In one on-screen graphic, the viewer sees a row of houses behind the words "It hurts Middle-Class families."

The campaign did not provide dates on-screen for the soundbites in the ad, so it is often hard for the viewer to tell whether someone was commenting on Ryan's 2011 Medicare plan or his 2012 version, which contain different proposed fixes for Medicare.

Back in March, Pres. Obama described the Ryan budget by saying, "It is thinly-veiled Social Darwinism. It is antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everybody who's willing to work for it."

Republicans, though, say Pres. Obama is being a hypocrite when he says things like this.

In last night's "60 Minutes" interview, Gov. Romney accused Pres. Obama of cutting Medicare by $500 billion in the healthcare program that even the White House now calls Obamacare. says that's a line Romney has used many times. And they say it's false.

Their researchers found that while Pres. Obama's healthcare plan will slow the growth of Medicare, there is no actual "cut" because the Medicare program will continue to grow.

Here's more information:

Background on Rep. Ryan's Medicare proposals

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