Many people pine for "small government." They believe that small government means lower taxes and we all hate paying taxes. The truth is, smaller government means less services, it does not mean we get to keep all the services and by magic (or eliminating all the waste, etc) we keep what we have and pay less. Small government does not lower costs unless you eliminate services. As you can see in Shirley, even cutting services does not always lead to lower costs because costs are always going up.

Much is being made of the future of Medicare and the "Ryan Budget" plan to save it. It claims to make the federal government smaller and still keep all the services. The truth is Medicare is expensive as it is currently operating and is in trouble. The other truth is that most seniors rely heavily on Medicare and the full range of benefits that they offer (limited as they are in some cases). Many seniors in town are having chemotherapy or dialysis or have had hip or knee replacements paid for by Medicare. Many of these benefits may not be available under the Ryan plan. Under his plan, the insurance company and the size of your plan (premium) will dictate what coverage you get. Be assured that the voucher will NOT give you the same coverage that you get today. It is impossible to save money and get the same coverage with a voucher plan.

Both candidates (Obama and Romney/Ryan) have plans to save Medicare. Obama's plan is to reduce costs. He wants to lower payments to providers, drug companies, medical testing companies and lawyers. He also is beefing up fraud detection to eliminate the costs of fraud in the system. This is the $700 billion over 10 years numbers you keep hearing about. It is less money to the doctors/hospitals, NOT cuts in services.

The Ryan plan would cut benefits to save money so don't be fooled by the "voucher" idea. Vouchers will save the Federal government money (they spend less) and move the cost to the states and the seniors.

All seniors will need to "buy" coverage from insurance companies and most insurance companies are for-profit. So we know what their focus is and that they hate to pay for things that are expensive or to cover people who are really sick. The Ryan plan "saves Medicare" by transferring the costs from the federal government to the equally inefficient state governments and to the seniors. It ensures that insurance companies make a profit but it does not ensure that seniors get the same coverage as today for the same out-of-pocket costs. While they claim that they will not impact anyone over 55 today, who knows. But if you are younger than 55, be aware that your benefits will be less in the future. If that is OK, because you do not think Medicare will even be here when you turn 65 (or 67-68), please read Obama's plan to save it for you and your generation before you convince yourself it will not be there.

Romney has been quoted as saying "everyone should have the best medical coverage they can afford." I don't know about you, but I can't afford a Romney presidency. I will be voting to help my neighbors, my kids and my grandkids have a strong Medicare system in the future. I will be voting for Obama. I hope you join me.

JOHN OELFKE

A senior

Shirley