From: California Healthline

In their messages to voters over the past several months, President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney have attempted to distinguish their policy proposals to reform Medicare, the New York Times reports. They also have accused each other of backing plans that would end the program.

Romney has unveiled a proposal to increase the Medicare eligibility age and offer a new option for beneficiaries to purchase private coverage. Under the proposal, the Medicare eligibility age would increase by one month annually.

According to the Times, the government contribution to beneficiaries would be based off of competitive bidding rather than tax increases, which Romney said is a way to address Medicare’s financial problems. Obama has argued that the government contribution would not be able to keep pace with the rising cost of health care and would shift the financial burden to beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, Obama administration officials have noted that the federal health reform law is designed to ease Medicare’s finances and helped extend the hospital insurance trust fund. The law also slows the Medicare spending growth rate by stifling back payments to health care providers. It also encourages providers to collaborate to reduce costs and keep patients healthier through coordinated care initiatives, according to the Times (Pear, New York Times, 5/15).