Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Medicare Recipients Don't Know Whom to Believe

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Medicare Recipients Don't Know Whom to Believe

Article excerpt

THIS WEEK, Republicans, Democrats and their respective allies intensified their campaigns to win public support for their competing visions of Medicare's perils and promises.

In their arguments, Republicans point to a recent government report predicting that Medicare will go broke in seven years. Their goal, they maintain, is to save Medicare from bankruptcy, make it better, and protect it for the future.

Democrats point to the Republican-crafted federal budget, which calls for $270 billion less-than-expected spending on Medicare over the next seven years. That - and other "stealth" changes in how Medicare operates - will end Medicare as we know it, they argue.

Here are some samples of what the two sides are doing to try to make their case to voters:

Taking some lessons from Republicans' successful campaign against broader health care overhaul last year, the Democratic National Committee this week began an $850,000 television campaign in 13 states, including Missouri. Featuring President Bill Clinton, the two ads in the campaign evoke the Democrats' history as the creators of Medicare in 1965 and speculate about the potential effects of changes the Republicans are considering in the tax-supported program.

"As Americans, there are some things we do simply and solely because they're moral. Right. And good," one ad says. "Treating our elderly with dignity is one of those things. We created Medicare not because it was cheap or easy. But because it was the right thing to do."

In old-fashioned stumping, House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, D-Mo., is on a whirlwind travel schedule including rallies, meetings and speeches in Boston, Cleveland and Chicago.

Today, he's in Philadelphia, sharing a town hall meeting with members of Congress from that area. Next Wednesday, he is expected to bring his campaign and message to a hometown group of the elderly in St. Louis.

Just in time.

Gephardt's district is one of 11 in which the Republican National Committee this week began airing radio ads, accusing Gephardt and other Democrats of ignoring Medicare's potential bankruptcy. "Medicare's survival is at stake - and Congressman Gephardt refuses to face this danger," the ad says. …

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