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Romney: Mass. health reform helped women without cutting Medicare

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign event at Watson Truck and Supply, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, in Hobbs, N.M. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

(CBS News) Mitt Romney on Sunday pointed to the health care reforms he implemented in Massachusetts as proof that his policies would benefit women, even as he blasted President Obama's federal health care reforms. The difference between the two plans, Romney said, was that his Massachusetts reforms protected Medicare, the popular government health care program for seniors.

"With regards to women's health care, look, I'm the guy that was able to get health care for all of the women and men in my state," Romney said on Fox News Sunday. "They're just talking about it at the federal level. We actually did something, and we did it without cutting Medicare and without raising taxes, number one."

In the wake of controversial remarks that Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin made about rape and abortion, President Obama and his party have ratcheted up their argument that Mr. Obama's policies are better for women's health and reproductive rights -- even though Romney and most other Republicans denounced Akin's remarks. Yet even before the Akin controversy arose, the president was touting the benefits of his health care overhaul for women.

The president currently enjoys a strong lead among women voters over Romney, but Romney this weekend stepped up efforts to reach out specifically to women.

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Mr. Obama's federal health care reforms were modeled after Romney's Massachusetts plan, but Romney reiterated Sunday that he wants to repeal the federal policy changes, including the more than $700 billion cuts to Medicare enacted as part of Mr. Obama's plan. Medicare, he said, "obviously affects a lot of women."

"The way the president cut Medicare, $716 billion for current retirees, that's a real problem," Romney added.

Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace pointed out that Medicare's own trustees have concluded that repealing Mr. Obama's reforms would in fact leave Medicare insolvent by 2016 -- eight years earlier than with Mr. Obama's reforms in place. The Romney campaign has called that conclusion "absurd."

Romney told Wallace he would keep Medicare solvent by replacing Mr. Obama's reforms, which would keep overall health care costs down and thus preserve the government program for seniors. His replacement plan, Romney said, includes "a whole series of things."

"One is to have individuals be able to purchase their own insurance and do so on a tax-advantage basis," Romney said. "If you take action that helps bring down the cost of health care, slow down health inflation, that also helps Medicare. But one thing is for sure, putting money back into Medicare helps it, it doesn't hurt it."

Romney said that voters will see through Democrats' efforts to tie Republicans to Akin's remarks on rape and abortion.

"It obviously is being used by Democrats to try and cast a shadow on our entire party and it's not," Romney said. "The leaders of our party have pretty much unanimously said, you know, Mr. Akin, get out of the race."

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