Obama says his work on Medicare extended program for a ‘decade’

President Obama shot back Wednesday at attacks on the Medicare cuts in his signature healthcare law.

Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, anticipating harsh criticism over running mate Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) controversial Medicare plan, has hit Obama hard for cutting $716 billion from the program. Republicans say Obama has "ended Medicare as we know it," mirroring the line Democrats use to attack the Ryan plan.

Obama defended his plan at a campaign stop Wednesday in Iowa.

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"My plan already extends Medicare by more than a decade," he said. "Their plan ends Medicare as we know it."

The Medicare program's trustees have said the Affordable Care Act will extend Medicare's solvency, mostly because of the savings Romney is attacking, though they questioned whether Congress would actually allow the cuts to take effect.

The Obama campaign says the $700 billion comes from cutting waste and fraud and from reducing subsidies to insurance companies. The administration says the cut will not reduce services or benefits for seniors.

Obama also derided Romney's proposal as a "voucher" plan. Romney and Ryan would partially privatize Medicare, so that seniors would choose between the existing single-payer program or a subsidy to help them buy private coverage.

Seniors would have to pay $6,400 more for their healthcare, Obama said, "and I'm guessing they don't have it."

That claim is based on independent studies of Ryan's Medicare plan. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said seniors' healthcare costs would rise.

Obama did not wade into the specifics of the law's Medicare cuts, but he highlighted popular provisions such as the ban on discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions. 

He knocked Romney and Ryan for continuing to debate the healthcare law, which passed in 2010.

"The Supreme Court has spoken, it is the law of the land, we are moving forward to give every American the health security they deserve," Obama said.