The key difference between Democrats and Republicans on Medicare is that Democrats want to make Medicare less expensive by reducing health care prices on the provider side, and Republicans want to make Medicare less expensive by cutting off access to guaranteed benefits for people under 55 – by reducing access to health care.
Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar at the AP does a nice job of showing why undoing the Democrats’ cuts to providers would hurt Medicare’s trust fund. If we go back to paying providers more, then the Medicare trust fund runs out of money sooner:
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s new promise to restore the Medicare cuts made by President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law could backfire if he’s elected.
The reason: Obama’s cuts also extended the life of Medicare’s giant trust fund, and by repealing them Romney would move the insolvency date of the program closer, toward the end of what would be his first term in office.
Instead of running out of money in 2024, Medicare says its trust fund for inpatient care would go broke in 2016 without the cuts. That could leave a President Romney little political breathing room to finalize his own Medicare plan [...]
Romney would “have to find other ways to get the cost down in the future,” said economist Marilyn Moon, a former trustee overseeing Social Security and Medicare finances.
“These (Obama cuts) were all on service providers,” said Moon, now director of the health program at the nonpartisan American Institutes for Research. Romney “would have three options: either cut it out of providers in a different way, ask beneficiaries to pay higher premiums in various ways, or raise taxes in order to pay for it.”