RIVERDALE -- U.S. Senate candidate Scott Howell visited Riverdale Senior Center on Thursday to discuss Medicare.
Howell, a Democrat and former Utah State Senate minority leader, is running against incumbent Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch.
Howell attacked Hatch's 2011 Senate vote to change Medicare by converting it to a type of voucher system for those currently younger than 55.
"We are witnessing today an attempt by Congress to end Medicare," Howell said. "I oppose any plan that forces seniors into the private health insurance market -- some call it a voucher system. Really, it's 'coupon care.' "
Howell said he would make Medicare more solvent by using modern technology to upgrade the Medicare card to cut fraud and abuse.
"There are concrete steps that Congress can take immediately to preserve and strengthen Medicare," he said. "I support legislation to upgrade the Medicare card and eliminate phantom billing and medical equipment fraud."
Howell claimed that by simply upgrading the Medicare card, $300 million could be saved over a period of 10 years. He did not provide a specific example of how that savings would be achieved.
Howell also said he supports legislation that would allow Medicare to use its bulk purchasing power to negotiate with drug makers for lower prices.
"We have people who have been paying into Medicare for their entire life and are in jeopardy of losing it," Howell said. "It's imperative that we start thinking outside of the box and save Medicare."
Hatch spokeswoman Heather Barney said Hatch also believes Medicare must be reformed, but done so in a fiscally responsible way while considering the national debt.