Paul Ryan Defends Medicare Plan, Accuses President Obama of 'Raiding It'

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At the Villages, Ryan mentioned the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a Medicare cost-cutting board, for the first time on the stump. Opponents of IPAB say it gives too much control to bureaucrats and could force cuts in health care that is essential to the sick and elderly.

Sarah Palin made them famous by calling them "death panels." Today, Ryan didn't go that far, but he still sent a scary message about the president's plan.

"He puts a board of 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats in charge of Medicare who are required to cut Medicare in ways that will lead to denied care for current seniors," Ryan said. "You want to know what Medicare is saying about this? From Medicare officials themselves, one out of six of our hospitals and our nursing homes will go out of business as a result of this. Four million seniors are projected to lose their Medicare advantage plans that they enjoy and they choose today under this 'Obamacare' plan.

"What's worse is the president's campaign calls this an achievement," he said. "Do you think raiding Medicare to pay for 'Obamacare' is an achievement? Do you think empowering a board of bureaucrats to cut Medicare an achievement? Neither do I. Medicare should not be used as a piggy bank for 'Obamacare.' Medicare should be used to be the promise that it made to our current seniors. Period. End of Story."

Ryan promised that he would make sure IPAB would "not mess with my mom's healthcare or your mom's healthcare" and employed a move he's used at Medicare town halls in his own district in Wisconsin.

"Let me just see a show of hands. How many of you are 55 or over?" Ryan asked the crowd.

A sea of hands raised, causing both Ryan and the large audience to break into laughter.

"Wow. OK. OK, how many of you are not?" Ryan said. "Our solution to preserve, protect, and save Medicare does not affect your benefits. Let me repeat that. Our plan does not affect the benefits for people who are in or near retirement. It's a promise that was made and it's a promise that must be kept.

"But in order to make sure we can guarantee that promise -- for my mom's generation, for those baby boomers who are retiring every day -- we must reform it for my generation," he said. "To save it for this generation, you have to reform it for my generation so it doesn't go bankrupt when we retire."

The Villages is a conservative enclave, but a few protesters wearing Obama T-shirts did show up. A plane few above dragging a sign that read: "Paul Ryan: Hands off our Medicare!"

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