New proposal for Medicare
December 15th, 2011
04:09 PM ET
3 years ago

New proposal for Medicare

Washington (CNN) – They know better than to propose legislation in the current political atmosphere, but two political opposites came to terms Thursday on keeping Medicare solvent. They are left wondering, however, if their political parties will.

Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican Budget Committee Chairman who sparked an outcry this year by proposing to privatize all of Medicare gave in a lot. So too, liberal Sen. Ron Wyden, a member of the Special Aging Committee, who is bound to spark an outcry from many within his own party.

Their proposal, unveiled in Washington, would "make sure that traditional Medicare, with its marketplace clout, popularity among seniors, low administrative costs was preserved for all time," according to Wyden. "That was hugely important," from the Democratic perspective.

But to help control costs, seniors would have the option of using private health insurance plans. "It is all a 'public option'," Ryan said of the current system, bringing back a phrase from the health care reform debate. "So this is moving us from that toward a patient-centered, choice-based system."

Only referencing Ryan's original position in a statement, the liberal Americans United for Change called the proposal "lipstick on a pig." It showed just how hard the idea of partial privatization may be to sell to Democrats on Capitol Hill.

Wyden told the audience at a Bipartisan Policy Center forum Democrats and Republicans could agree that Uncle Sam would put up a set amount to pay for seniors' coverage, as Ryan originally put forth. But he added flexibility to the new proposal which would allow Uncle Sam to step in with more help for those choosing private plans "if costs did go up [precipitously, so that] it just didn't automatically hammer the seniors with extra costs."

After the event, Wyden told reporters that despite the comity of the moment, Democrats might still hammer away at GOP votes on the original Ryan proposal, which was part of the House budget plan early this year.

Under the compromise proposal, seniors could choose private plans that are as good or better than conventional Medicare, they said.

The White House was unmoved, reacting that the new plan "would undermine, rather than strengthen Medicare," according to spokesman Jay Carney. It could "over time, cause the traditional Medicare program to wither on the vine," Carney said reading a prepared reaction, "because it would raise premiums forcing many seniors to leave traditional Medicare and join private plans."

He ended by calling the new plan "the wrong way to reform Medicare. That's our position."


Filed under: Congress • Medicare • Paul Ryan
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Larry L

    Healthcare can never be managed by profit-based corporations because bean-counters will always choose profits over health. If your child needed care would you want the best option or the one that produced the best profit for shareholders? The choice seems simple to the consumer but in no way would corporate leaders see the issue the same way. To say that the free market will select the best options is totally naive. How often to corporations tell the truth when it comes to financial disclosure, environmental damage, or deceptive advertising? Never. Don't let Wall Street make life of death decisions for your family.

    Republicans want to privatize healthcare because the HMOs and insurance companies continue to be their sugar daddies at election time. Cynical? Certainly. Truthful? Absolutely.

    December 15, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  2. roro

    I'm very skeptical. I feel that I cannot trust any Republican with my health care. I would bet that there is something in there that will not benefit the citizens, but rather the insurance companies. After all, that's what Republicans care about – not me.

    December 15, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    Something isn't "bipartisan" just because 2 people, one from each party, got together and suggested it. Tha's just the MSM selling it for them. Wynden is going to get himself obliterated in his next election for this...and Ryan is just trying to smooth over the problems he's made for himself in WI with his original Pathology of Plutocracy budget. This nonsense is DOA. Leave Medicare alone and stop pretending that it's the root cause of all our budgetary problems. It's not. Not even close.

    December 15, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  4. GOP answer to everything~"the middle class can pay for it, then blame the poor or a minority"

    Ryan & the rest of the Republicons have stated over and over they want to destroy SS, Medicare, Medicaid, EPA, Fed Reserve, Welfare, Student Loans, and a whole host of other benefits for the middle-class so the wealthiest 1% can keep more of their tax money.
    No matter what half-wit distraction they attach to it pushing “for-profit private health insurance plans” (that put 30% of the money into so-called insurance companies profit) to replace Medicare/Medicare is just a step in the direction of destroying Medicare/Medicaid.
    We need to take a step in the right direction ~ toward a single payer program ~ say lowering the age from 65 to 50 would be such a step.
    It’s time for the Democratic Party to start saying “NO!”, maybe even “HELL NO!”

    December 15, 2011 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  5. A True Centrist

    OK...you have a very conservative member of the House hammering out a proposal with a very liberal Senator. Finally, two parties working together. I will hold reservation about the proposal until I see the details, but it's nice to see at least two members of Congress putting America before party.

    December 15, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  6. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE

    Here's three words for you that will make Medicare solvent: MEDICARE REPLACEMENT PLANS. MRP's are designed for seniors who make more than enough money to purchase their own private insurance plan. I'm sure everyone has seen those Humana commercials pushing their Medicare Replace Plan. Even Blue Cross Blue Shield and United Healthcare have one and both of those insurance companies suck. The problem is that seniors who are already well off and don't live off a fixed income have basic Medicare rather than having a Medicare Replacement Plan. That is what is draining the system. I only know this because it's my job as a medical biller. B

    December 15, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  7. Lynda/Minnesota

    "So this is moving us from that toward a patient-centered, choice-based system."

    Really? Until what? Seniors become to old and decrepit for insurance company profit margins, thus allowing said insurance brokers carte blanche to refuse treatments without interference whatsoever? Talk about REAL death panels.

    Hence the above photo of Paul Ryan "come to me, Grandma .... come to me, Grandpa. Do I have a good deal for you, hehehehe, come to me, hurry now".

    Reading Wyden's bio is like reading a health industry wish list. Guy goes hand in hand with healthcare lobbyists.

    December 15, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  8. A True Centrist

    "This nonsense is DOA."

    And Sniffit with his true wisdom...have you read the entire proposal? How can you pass judgement without reading it first?

    December 15, 2011 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  9. Jamie from Riverside

    It's right-wing social engineering. Just ask Newt.

    December 15, 2011 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  10. 1crusader

    I won't totally dismiss it before hearing the details, but on the face of it, it sounds a lot like voucherized education.

    December 15, 2011 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  11. Mikey

    Unless Ryan has fundamentally changed his plan, it will still suffer from the same fatal flaw it had before. Medical expenses have been inflating at aroung 15% per year. His vouchers are supposed to adjust by the CPI. Assuming 3% for the CPI, in 15 years, seniors will have to come up with $99,000 out of pocket to buy insurance. As the insurance will cost $122K and the voucher will be worth $23K. In 25 years, the gap expands to $462K. Hope everyone under 60 is putting a lot of money away to pay for their health insurance.

    December 15, 2011 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  12. Steve registered Independent

    What a great resolution!

    The President's response is proof positive that the proposal is great for the American people. His admission that private plans will be so much cheaper using patient driven costs compared to government regulated program that the existing Medicare program will be replaced demonstrates that the country can significantly reduce the costs of senior medical care that it out of control.

    It is indefensible for the President to be recognize the enormous savings to our nation's tax payers and be opposed to those savings. I hope on reflection he and both parties embrace this proposal.

    December 15, 2011 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  13. Four and The Door

    We can certainly do much better than the expensive, unmanaged mess Medicare is today. Paul Ryan has done some excellent work showing ways to really improve the system. It's not just all politics. It's economics and how do we make this important system work better for the people and the country? Not by letting it go broke and not by ignoring the problems with it and just throwing more money at an inefficient system. We can do better. Now we know how. Thank you Representative Ryan!

    December 15, 2011 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  14. Johnathan

    Ryan just looks like Satan

    December 15, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "Here's three words for you that will make Medicare solvent: MEDICARE REPLACEMENT PLANS."

    Or 4: EVERYBODY IN THE POOL. Single-payer...everybody on Medicare, period. Instantly solvent and instantly powerful enough to get health care costs under control. The private insurers can go bleep themselves. Health care should be treated like a public utility in this country, not a luxury commodity.

    December 15, 2011 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |