By JASON RAICHE
For The Daily News
ESCANABA - U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, recently stopped by The Daily Press in Escanaba to discuss his campaign, and specifically the Medicare issue, as he looks to retain his seat for a second term in the U.S. House of Representatives this November.
Benishek has been touring the district as part of his "House Calls with Dr. Dan" tour, where he has spoken at senior centers, schools, and with local business people and veteran groups.
One topic Benishek discussed was the impact of President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on Medicare.
Recently the Congressional Budget Office estimated that Medicare provisions of the Affordable Care Act would reduce Medicare spending by $716 billion over a 10-year period - from 2013 to 2022.
"The president's health care bill cuts $700 billion out of Medicare and the University of Minnesota did a study that shows that Delta County's share of the cuts would be $99 million over the next 10 years," said Benishek.
The study, released by the university's Medical Industry Leadership Institute, also highlights that Menominee and Schoolcraft counties would lose $54.82 million and $26.82 million in Medicare payments, respectively, over this same period. Delta County's projected loss of $99.39 million in the study would be the second-highest of all U.P. counties - surpassed only by Marquette County's projected loss of $133.54 million.
Benishek said the reductions would equate to approximately $2 billion worth of cuts throughout Michigan's First Congressional District.
"We're working to preserve Medicare and my opponent Gary McDowell and the Democrats in Washington ... support the president's health care bill and those cuts are just a clear distinction between him and me as to what is going to be the future of health care in this country," he said.
According to the non-partisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, which focuses on major health care issues facing the U.S. and the U.S. role in global health policy, some provisions in the Affordable Care Act would reduce growth in Medicare spending mainly "by phasing down payments to Medicare Advantage plans, reducing updates in payment levels to hospitals and other providers, and increasing premiums to be paid by higher-income beneficiaries."
Benishek said the assertion that he is against Medicare and wants to end the program are not true.
"I support a bipartisan plan that preserves Medicare for the long term," he said. "Even before Mr. Obama's health care plan takes the $700 billion away from Medicare, the Medicare Trust Fund is projected to be bankrupt within the decade, so shouldn't we look at that? Shouldn't we try to fix Medicare so it's not out of money within the decade? Our plan does that."