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The Associated Press January 1, 2012, 4:58AM ET

2012 Medicare debate is all about the baby boomers

Baby boomers might want to take note: Medicare as their parents have known it is headed for big changes no matter who wins the White House in 2012.

If you dial down the partisan rhetoric, there are some surprising similarities from competing approaches by President Barack Obama and leading Republicans such as Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.

Both would limit the overall growth in Medicare spending. Both would make upper-come retirees and some in the middle class pay more. Obama has indicated a willingness to increase the eligibility age.

Democrats hope to use Medicare as a political weapon against Republicans, but they may find it cuts both ways.

For the 76 million baby boomers streaming into the program over the next couple of decades, it will pay to watch closely.

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