Fact or fiction? Stiffing old voters to woo young

Claim: The Democrats are trying to create a voting base of younger people by giving them health care.

By 2019, the House insurance reform would cut $570 billion from the Medicare program which covers people age 65 and older, according to Richard Foster, the chief actuary of the federal agency that runs Medicare and Medicaid. The Medicare cuts might cause some hospitals and other providers to "end their participation in the program (possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries)," Foster said in a Nov. 13 report. Meanwhile the bill would increase spending by more than $900 billion on Medicaid, which covers the indigent, and on subsidies to uninsured people to buy insurance. Since many of those eligible for the new spending are younger people and since Medicare cuts would directly affect older people, one msnbc.com reader wonders whether the legislation is driven by a Democratic electoral strategy of wooing younger voters by giving them coverage.

Fact or fiction?
Unclear. A strategy that risked alienating older voters in a bid to woo younger ones seems unlikely, simply because it would be self-defeating. Democrats know that a far higher percentage of older people vote compared to younger people. In the 2008 election, 48 percent of people between 18 and 24 voted; but 70 percent of people age 65 and older voted, according to the Census Bureau. More than twice as many people over 65 voted in 2008 as did people under age 25. The disparity is even greater in midterm elections. In the 2006 congressional elections, voters age 65 and older outnumbered voters between age 18 and 24 by more than five to one. And Democratic leaders aren't ignoring older voters. Despite the cuts in Medicare outlays in their legislation, Democrats contend that it will result in a stronger Medicare program, pointing, for instance, to the bill's expanded prescription drug benefits for those in Medicare.

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