Medicare’s political importance goes beyond seniors

Medicare’s political importance goes beyond seniors

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON | (Reuters) – The Medicare debate promises to be front and center in this fall’s presidential campaign, as not just seniors but aging baby boomers focus on retiree healthcare.

Recent polling data shows that the issue resonates with boomers in key swing states. In Wisconsin, about 80 percent of respondents aged 50 to 64 ranked Medicare as “important” or “very important” in a Quinnipiac University/CBS/New York Times survey taken August 15-21, versus 91 percent for those 65 and older. Florida and Ohio produced comparable results in the same survey.

There are 41 million seniors and 61 million boomers in the United States. With numbers like that vitally interested in a single issue, the importance of Medicare is likely to grow as the presidential campaign and congressional races move into the post-Labor Day home stretch.

Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan made that clear in his acceptance speech Wednesday at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.

The Wisconsin congressman did not mention his plan to revamp the healthcare program for the elderly, which would affect people 54 and younger but not current seniors. Instead, he launched an attack on President Barack Obama for diverting money from Medicare to the broader healthcare overhaul.

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