As he turns 65 this year, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney says he will not sign up for Medicare. Instead, he will keep his private insurance and do without the social safety net, a Romney rep said Tuesday.
This news comes in the wake of Romney's proposal of raising the eligibility age for all Americans to enroll in Medicare. The motion was outlined in a Detroit speech last month and would not take place until 2022, not affecting anyone approaching the Medicare of Social Security age now.
"Mr. Romney should not even qualify for Social Security benefits because he has so much personal money," commented Cathy Milne on Facebook.
Twitter user @robteed agrees. "Mitt Romney is so rich he does not need Medicare," he tweeted. "He supports [Paul] Ryan's voucher plan... that costs 6 thousand more a year."
The GOP presidential front-runner has used Medicare as a strong campaign issue these last months, wanting to reduce the benefit for himself so that "lower-income seniors would receive the most generous benefits."
On the POLITICO website, commenter @unoga says that she applauds Mitt for taking the step back from the program. "There are tens of thousands of Medicare recipients who are wealthy and very able to care for themselves, but they figure that they earned it, so they take advantage of it," she commented. "However, the Democrat Machine will find a way to turn this around and use it against Mitt in the general election."
@BoulderJR fired back, asking how it is possible for Romney to be able to opt out of Medicare. "Most people don't have that option because it is considered primary coverage unless the person is in a large group via his employer. What kind of special deal is Romney getting?" he commented.
Nearly all seniors are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A, however they can choose not to use it. 95 percent of seniors choose to enroll in Medicare Part B though, which covers physician services, once they're eligible.
The question arises of what Romney opting out of the program says about his political campaign.
The Democratic National Committee used Romney's decision against him in a new web video released Monday evening. The video essentially accuses Romney of pursuing to "end Medicare as we know it."
"He's worth a quarter of a billion," the ad reads. "Mitt Romney may not need Medicare, but he shouldn't mess it up for the rest of us."
Disagreeing with the DNC's video was commenter @ArtasSocialInquiry. "It's not that Mitt's decision is negative," she said. "It just underscores the point that he has a choice because of his financial security. It's one thing to be against Obamacare, for example, it's quite another to have suffered a medical bankruptcy yourself."
(Here's the DNC's video)
Two of Romney's competitors, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich, have already turned 65. Gingrich takes part in a Medicare Advantage plan, while Paul, a member of Congress, has a Blue Cross Blue Shield employee health insurance plan through the federal government.
The decision to opt out puts Romney in a small minority pool. Last year, Don Berwick became the first administrator of CMS to enroll in Medicare while running the program. He commented that it's personally meaningful for him to be enrolling in the program that he ran. It made him feel "one step closer to the beneficiaries."