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Health care expert changes mind on vouchers program

Health care is one of the biggest issues on voters' minds this election. And health care means the Affordable Care Act and Medicare. Of course, Medicare's getting a lot of attention this convention season, because it's the one thing that both President Obama and Governor Romney want to talk about all the time.

The Romney-Ryan plan, of course, involves the use of vouchers, an approach that the Republican Party once rejected but has now come to embrace.

Henry J. Aaron helped write the Medicare voucher program now championed by Republicans, but has since opposed the program. He's an economist and noted health-care expert at the Brookings Institution.

Aaron says that Romney and Ryan are misrepresenting facts about Medicare and the Affordable Care Act in the plan they are proposing.

"What isn't acknowledged is that if the savings and the additional revenues that would flow into Medicare as a result of healthcare reform were repealed, as Mr. Romney has pledged to do, the date of insolvency of the Medicare hospital insurance trust fund would move up from 2024 to 2016 -- forward eight years -- by their proposal," Aaron said. "And we have not seen any suggestion of how equivalent savings could be achieved in some other way."

Aaron recognizes that there are flaws to the Medicare system (i.e. it isn't as efficient as it should be), but he said that the Affordable Care Act closes two-thirds of the long-term budget gap projected in Medicare; the remainder is fully financed.

For more details why Aaron is now opposing vouchers, listen to his interview above.

OK, we know health care is a hot-button issue for listeners of this show, and we're pretty certain you have something to say. So spill it!

About the author

David Lazarus is an American business and consumer columnist for the Los Angeles Times.

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