The proposal to dismantle Medicare and replace it with a voucher system went down to defeat in the Senate last week by a margin of 57 to 40. The proposal had earlier passed the Republican-controlled House in a vote along party lines. Detractors of the plan claim that seniors were spared much higher out-of-pocket costs for health care by the proposal’s defeat.

“Passage of this measure would have been a disaster for America’s seniors and for all Americans,” said Nancy Altman of the Strengthen Social Security Campaign. “Turning Medicare over to insurance companies will escalate seniors’ health costs and eat up a huge chunk of each monthly Social Security check.”

The debate is far from over, however, with the reform of Medicare and other entitlement programs shaping up as a wedge issue for the coming presidential campaign. Currently, lawmakers are deciding on whether to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, an outcome which may prove to be all but unavoidable, in part due to programs such as Medicare.

For more on Medicare reform, see:

GOP budget would restructure Medicare

White House touts reform benefits for seniors

Poll: Majority expect Medicare crisis