More than 20,000 people are in town for the AARP convention. And with the presidential election approaching, Medicare is on their minds. So that's what President Obama and Vice-Presidential hopeful, Congressman Paul Ryan talked to the group about. People were divided in their post-speech reactions.
President Obama's talk was first via teleconference. He wants to go after waste and fraud to lower Medicare costs.
"What we need to do is go after the waste the fraud and reduce health care costs overall, so part of what we're doing, through this new health care law, is using the power of the, purchasing power of Medicare to say to doctors and hospitals and insurance companies, you guys need to work smarter. Instead of having five different tests that you're charging us for, do one test and e-mail it to everybody," said the President to cheers in the audience.
His supporters agree.
"Medicare, even as it is, is struggling. And that they need to pay more attention because we have poverty in America and there are people who will never be able to take care of themselves. So we look to the government for some assistance," said Barbara Burrus, an Obama supporter from Virginia.
"When he talked about it's going bankrupt, that puts fear, because we're getting older and if anything goes bankrupt that means the money is not there. So, again, with the President, I think he alleviates those fears for me," said Ernestine Billips, an Obama supporter also from Virginia.
"This subsidy is needed. Nothing has changed (since the program began in the 60's). It still does in this country. No one should have to go broke taking care of their health," said convention attendee John Paskowski, an Obama supporter from Ohio.
People who went to the Paul Ryan talk said that there was a group in the back of the room that was verbally disruptive and holding signs. But no authorities went to stop them nor did Congressman Ryan stop talking. He just kept on going through the noise.
He was at the convention in person and talked about saving a system that he says is in financial trouble.
"Many Americans over 50, are wondering will I lose my job before I am ready to retire. Will the health and retirement security programs I've been counting on be there for me. What will happen to my savings if the value of the dollar keeps going down. What kind of nation are we leaving to our kids. You're right to ask these questions. You're right to worry that years of empty promises, by both political parties, are threatening the security of your golden years," said Ryan from the podium.
His supporters like that they will have more options to pick their plans, choices like the congress does.
"His message was definitely to save it (Medicare.) They're not trying to take away anything. They obviously know that the need is there in this society and everybody depends on it and they want it there," said Romney supporter Mark Manganello of New Orleans.
"We need reform and I do understand what Congressman Ryan said. And I believe it's for not only my generation, as I'm approaching retirement, but for my children and grandchildren," said Arnold Goldberg
a Romney supporter from New Orleans.
"I liked his thought process. I think he was very clear about the direction it should go in," explained Mary Cusick a Romney supporter from Massachusetts.
The AARP convention runs through Saturday at the Morial Convention Center.