Robertson, Reed race one for the ages

Voters of all ages can find a topic to relate to within the race between 23rd Congressional District candidates Tom Reed and Martha Robertson.

From jobs and veteran care to clean energy and preserving Medicare, the race features issues both candidates say they care about.

A recent report from the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning & Engagement labeled New York’s 23rd Congressional District race as one to be watched because of the young voting population’s role in November’s upcoming election for the seat.

Reed, R-Corning, is defending his seat in a district with roughly a quarter of the population between 18 and 30, and a large number of college campuses.

For many voters, Reed’s focus – job creation – is a concern.

While Robertson’s campaign has revolved around a variety of issues, she said jobs, housing and economic development are a few of her top priorities.

Both candidates have also been outspoken in their attempts to preserve Medi-care.

The future of the health care program has been used as ammunition between both in terms of who is more dedicated to its future.

Most recently, Robertson vowed on the 49th anniversary of Medicare’s passage into law that she would fight efforts to cut benefits, raise the retirement age or privatize the program.

“My opponent has voted four times for plans that would gut Medicare, ending the program as we know it turning Medicare into a voucher program instead of a guarantee, and costing retirees thousands of dollars from their own pockets. He would slash benefits, which would be a disaster for the families of the 23rd district,” Robertson said.

The votes Robertson re-ferred to involve Republican House budgets over the last four fiscal years, all entailing changes to Medicare.

Changes included turning the program into a “premium support” plan, which would entail seniors over the age of 55 paying higher fees for medical service.

In contrast, many Repub-licans say the Affordable Care Act cuts health care funding for seniors through Medicare Advantage, a type of health plan offered by private companies contracting with Medicare to provide Part A and B benefits, according to the government website.

More than 1.1 million seniors in New York are enrolled in Medicare Advantage, while over 35 percent of senior citizens rely on Medicare Advantage for their primary care.

In May, Reed alleged that more than $700 billion had been cut from Medicare in order to pay for the Affordable Care Act.

In response, Robertson said the cost of health care as a whole must decrease in order to make Medicare more affordable, and that the Affordable Care Act would reduce the real cost of health care while preserving or even enhancing quality. Furthermore, she said Medicare could be made more affordable by enacting reforms like negotiating for prescription drug costs.

“You’re going to have two very different presentations between parties when it comes to Medicare,” said Katherine Pudwill, Reed’s communication director. “Our opponents support the Affordable Care Act, and as a major part of his campaign, Tom has been dedicated to empowering patients and doctors with the removal of the Affordable Care Act. He is going to be dedicated, no matter what, to protecting and preserving Medicare because we’ve made a promise to our seniors.”

Last week, non-partisan, online newsletter The Cook Political Report rated the 23rd Congressional District as “likely Republican” in-stead of “lean Republican,” determining Robertson as the underdog.

This is Reed’s third Con-gressional race, and second bid at securing the District 23 seat, which covers Alle-gany, Cattaraugus, Chautau-qua, Chemung, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tompkins and Yates counties.

Portions of Ontario and Tioga counties are also represented.