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Medicare divides Senate candidates

Democratic Senate candidate Joe Donnelly said Monday he will oppose Republican efforts to turn Medicare into a voucher system for beneficiaries.

Donnelly told five seniors at the Dash-In restaurant that he wants to strengthen Medicare and Social Security in the face of rising demand of retiring baby boomers, although he did not say how.

“We don’t have to privatize it to do that,” the 2nd District congressman said. “We don’t have to tell seniors, ‘Here’s a coupon ­– hope your coupon works.' And if you get really sick, your own out of pocket increases so dramatically.”

“What we have to do to get that accomplished is Democrats and Republicans working together. There’s good ideas on both sides,” Donnelly said.

Christopher Conner, spokesman for Republican Senate candidate and state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, said in an email, “Congressman Joe Donnelly's only notion about Medicare was to vote in favor of cutting it by $700B to help pay for ObamaCare, which gives an unelected board of 15 bureaucrats the ability to deny health care to Hoosier seniors.”

The Washington Post’s fact-checking Wonkblog has reported that the $716 billion in Medicare spending cuts contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will reduce federal payments to hospitals and doctors but will not reduce patient benefits.

Mourdock has supported the federal budget proposal by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the GOP vice presidential candidate. That plan would turn Medicare into a voucher program for people currently 55 or younger.

For more on this story, see Tuesday’s print edition of The Journal Gazette or visit www.journalgazette.net after 3 a.m. Tuesday.

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