Published: Aug 22, 2012 5:59 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 22, 2012 6:43 PM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Both Presidential candidates say that its the other guy who hurts Medicare the most.

Governor Romney's basic claim is that the President's is putting Medicare at risk. Whereas, President Obama claims the Romney/Ryan plan ends "Medicare as we know it."

But here's what the candidates are actually for. Romney promises to keep Medicare as it is for Americans above age 55.  But he would also offer seniors a choice between traditional Medicare, and joining a private insurance plan in a system where the government would pay a basic premium for seniors directly to their insurance company.

"So people will have a choice," said Romney while on the campaign trail, "there will be greater competition between the government and private plans."

Romney's plan however could increase what seniors pay if they choose regular Medicare and the President has made that an issue.

"Their plan makes seniors pay more so they can give another tax cut to millionaires and billionaires," said President Obama.

The President's plans for Medicare are folded into the Health Care Reform Act. Virtually no change to traditional Medicare, but he would reduce future Medicare spending by $716 billion, most of that by reducing payments to hospitals and ending extra subsidies for the popular Medicare Advantage program. Those savings, the President claims, will help Medicare stay alive.
"My plan's already extended Medicare by nearly a decade."

But, those Medicare savings will also help pay for the President's health care reform and Romney has turned that into an issue.

"He has taken $716 billion out of the Medicare trust fund to pay for Obamacare. I'll put it back."

Both candidates avoid the specifics of what gets cut to keep Medicare solvent long term. Everyone admits Medicare has to control spending to survive, but telling seniors the details of what they might lose is still political suicide.