By Carol Cain CBS 62 Detroit
Obamacare and Romneycare are so associated with President Barack Obama and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney that each took time to field a question about their namesake plan and health care in the CBS Local Presidential Forum.
The CBS Local exclusive forum includes 10 questions on vital issues posed to the two men hoping to become our 45th president to help voters learn more about their policies.
Health care remains a central theme in this election with nearly every poll showing it among top concerns of voters.
“Everyone knows healthcare is a huge issue and with baby boomers aging, and more taking care of their kids and also their parents, it’s going to be a bigger issue tomorrow,” said Jim Dehem, president and CEO of Community Living Services, a non profit that provides at-home care services for thousands of people with special needs in Michigan and other states.
Dehem also talked of additional pressure on Medicare which serves nearly 50 million seniors and disabled people. Reigning in Medicare costs is necessary to keep the program affordable and solvent as baby boomers retire in greater numbers, but the two candidates also differ over how to do it.
“President Obama’s health care law raised taxes on middle class families and raided $716 billion from Medicare to pay for a federal takeover of our nation’s health care system,” answered Romney. “The law increased the cost of care, will force millions of Americans to lose the coverage they already have, and empowered a board of 15 unelected bureaucrats to cut Medicare even further.
Romney added that Obamacare was forced through Congress without a single Republican vote and challenged in court by 26 States.
Romney said in Massachusetts his health care plan, “passed with a near unanimous support, were never challenged in court, and enjoy broad support within the state. I understand that what works in one state will not necessarily work in another.”
“I will repeal Obamacare’s one-size-fits-all approach and restore state’s to their traditional role as leaders in solving our health care challenges,” Romney answered.
Obama said having affordable health insurance is a key part of middle-class security. By expanding coverage and putting a stop to insurance company abuses, Obamacare is giving millions of Americans peace of mind.
The Affordable Care Act is holding insurance companies accountable – putting an end to the worst abuses, such as capping or dropping your coverage when you get sick or refusing to cover kids just because they were born with a preexisting condition.
Obama said his plan has strengthened Medicare, helping those who rely on the program save on the care they need to stay healthy.
Obama added Romney once called his Massachusetts health reform law a “model for the nation” adding that Obamacare was based on Romneycare. And he said it was a shame to see him turn his back on the law, and on the millions of people who are already benefiting.
Another issue that brought out differences between Romney and Obama, their policy on national defense.
“I believe in a military that is so strong, no one would test it,” said Romney. “The U.S. Navy has a great slogan, “a global force for good.” That’s how I see a strong America backed by a strong military. We use our power to stabilize a globalized world, foster freedom and development, and – most importantly – keep the peace.
Romney has talked of the need to give more attention and resources to the military.
“Our Armed Forces have had a tough decade. They’ve fought with incredible bravery in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. But their equipment is getting older and falling into disrepair… I think it’s wrong for us spend more on the federal government, while shrinking a military that is still fighting on our behalf.”
“The defense of this nation is an enumerated power in the U.S. Constitution. So we have both a moral and legal obligation to treat our troops with the same loyalty and dedication that they treat us,” Romney said.
Obama countered he has been a strong and responsible leader in a complicated and often dangerous world.
When Obama took office, the United States was engaged in two wars and faced terrorist threats at home and abroad. Obama said he kept his promise to end the war in Iraq and has a plan to end the war in Afghanistan in 2014.
By refocusing our efforts on the most serious threats we face, President Obama has taken the fight directly to our enemies. He has put al Qaeda on the path to defeat, decimated its senior leadership, and brought Osama bin Laden to justice.
Coming up: President Barack Obama and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney weigh in to: Why should female voters support you? What specifically is in your platform that might appeal to women voters?
(Carol Cain is an Emmy winning journalist who has covered politics and business over 20 years. She is Senior Producer/Host of CBS62’s “Michigan Matters” and writes a column on politics and business for Detroit Free Press. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org).