Ranking

13 Biggest Medicare Battleground States, from Florida to Nevada (PHOTOS)

The Daily Beast crunches the numbers to find which states could be decided by the Medicare issue in the upcoming presidential election.

AP Photo (3); Getty Images (bottom right)

AP Photo (3); Getty Images (bottom right)

When GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney named Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his vice presidential nominee, the status of public health insurance in America—specifically Medicare and Medicaid—was cemented as one of the key debate points in the run-up to the November election.

After all, before becoming Romney’s running mate, Ryan was perhaps best known for his proposals to overhaul Medicare, which called for raising the minimum qualifying age by two years, and privatizing the longstanding government program by giving enrollees a yearly allowance to buy health insurance. Romney has struggled to harmonize Ryan’s suggested overhauls with a more moderate campaign message, but in the meantime the Romney and Obama camps have been trading barbs on Medicare over the past week.

While both Republicans and Democrats agree to some extent that current Medicare spending is unsustainable, they disagree on how to reel in those costs and reconcile very different ideological visions for health insurance in America. With dozens of electoral votes potentially at stake over the future of Medicare, The Daily Beast looks at which states’ voters are most likely to have the Medicare debate on the brain when they cast their ballots this November.

We started with the more than a dozen states defined as battleground territory by Real Clear Politics (accessed Aug. 17). We then took into account spending on personal health care (PDF) for Medicare enrollees for 2009, the most recent year available, with data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid; the total population over 65 that uses Medicare as a percentage of the total population; and the percentage of each state’s population age 55 to 64—both using data from the U.S. Census. States ranked higher that have close poll numbers, relatively high yearly spending for Medicare enrollees, a high percentage of Medicare beneficiaries, and a high percentage of the population poised to enroll in Medicare over the next decade. Each category was weighted equally. Among the top 10? Paul Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin.

Clark Merrefield

Laura Rauch / AP Photo

13. Nevada

Poll spread: 5 percentage points (Obama)

Population 55 to 64: 11.49%

Annual Medicare spending per enrollee: $9,692

Age 65+ with Medicare, as percentage of total population: 11%

David Zadlubowski / AP Photo

12. Colorado

Poll spread: 1 percentage point (Obama)

Population 55 to 64: 11.60%

Annual Medicare spending per enrollee: $8,727

Age 65+ with Medicare, as percentage of total population: 10.10%

Jacquelyn Martin / AP Photo

11. Virginia

Poll spread: .7 percentage points (Obama)

Population 55 to 64: 11.72%

Annual Medicare spending per enrollee: $8,772

Age 65+ with Medicare, as percentage of total population: 11.31%

Jeff Curry / AP Photo

10. Missouri

Poll spread: 6.3 percentage points (Romney)

Population 55 to 64: 11.81%

Annual Medicare spending per enrollee: $9,724

Age 65+ with Medicare, as percentage of total population: 12.99%

Morry Gash / AP Photo

9. Wisconsin

Poll spread: 4.3 percentage points (Obama)

Population 55 to 64: 11.97%

Annual Medicare spending per enrollee: $8,908

Age 65+ with Medicare, as percentage of total population: 12.77%

Jeff Barnard / AP Photo

8. Oregon

Poll spread: 8 percentage points (Obama)

Population 55 to 64: 13.02%

Annual Medicare spending per enrollee: $8,247

Age 65+ with Medicare, as percentage of total population: 13.13%

Chris Hondros / Getty Images

7. North Carolina

Poll spread: 1 percentage point (Romney)

Population 55 to 64: 11.73%

Annual Medicare spending per enrollee: $9,741

Age 65+ with Medicare, as percentage of total population: 12.10%

Nati Harnik / AP Photo

6. Iowa

Poll spread: 1 percentage point (Obama)

Population 55 to 64: 11.95%

Annual Medicare spending per enrollee: $8,461

Age 65+ with Medicare, as percentage of total population: 13.83%

Paul Sancya / AP Photo

5. Michigan

Poll spread: 6.3 percentage points (Obama)

Population 55 to 64: 12.28%

Annual Medicare spending per enrollee: $10,925

Age 65+ with Medicare, as percentage of total population: 12.94%

Jim Cole / AP Photo

4. New Hampshire

Poll spread: 3.5 percentage points (Obama)

Population 55 to 64: 13.15%

Annual Medicare spending per enrollee: $8,763

Age 65+ with Medicare, as percentage of total population: 12.42%

Mark Duncan / AP Photo

3. Ohio

Poll spread: 3 percentage points (Obama)

Population 55 to 64: 12.22%

Annual Medicare spending per enrollee: $10,300

Age 65+ with Medicare, as percentage of total population: 13.03%

Matt Rourke / AP Photo

2. Pennsylvania

Poll spread: 6.6 percentage points (Obama)

Population 55 to 64: 12.43%

Annual Medicare spending per enrollee: $10,555

Age 65+ with Medicare, as percentage of total population: 14.39%

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

1. Florida

Poll spread: 1 percentage point (Obama)

Population 55 to 64: 12.23%

Annual Medicare spending per enrollee: $11,893

Age 65+ with Medicare, as percentage of total population: 16.21%