Medicare Takes Center Stage in NY-27 Campaign

August 13, 2012 Updated Aug 13, 2012 at 11:30 PM EDT

By John Borsa

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August 13, 2012 Updated Aug 13, 2012 at 11:30 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) - Mitt Romney's surprise pick for Vice President could have a big impact on politics in a race here in Western New York.

Some are calling it "The Ryan Factor" and it just might make the difference in a key congressional race between incumbent Kathy Hochul and Chris Collins.

When Hochul, a Democrat, won the 26th Congressional District in a traditional Republican stronghold during a special election last year, her position on Medicare was considered to be one of the top reasons for her success.

After all, the race was considered a shoo-in for Hochul's Republican opponent Jane Corwin.

Now Hochul is using the same strategy in her attempt to defeat another Republican, Chris Collins, in the newly redrawn 27th Congressional District.

And Hochul can thank Romney's pick of Paul Ryan, who has proposed major changes to the Medicare program.

"I don't support the Ryan budget plan or what Chris Collins adopts as a plan to cut Medicare for seniors while funding tax cuts for millionaires," Hochul told Eyewitness News over the weekend.

"I've never supported the Paul Ryan budget that's in the past and I've never supported any cuts to Medicare, and Medicare advantage, which she has and that is why she is a hypocrite," said Collins when he was interviewed on Monday.

Ryan has proposed slowing the growth of Medicare and providing future retirees with something like a voucher to pay for private health insurance...

Independent analysts say that limited voucher would mean seniors would have to pay thousands more out of their own pocket.

The Romney Campaign insists these changes would not impact today's seniors or those close to retirement...and that such changes are needed for the program to survive.

Get ready for Democrats to hit this issue hard until November.