Sebelius hits Ryan over Medicare, marathon time
September 4th, 2012
12:15 PM ET
10 years ago

Sebelius hits Ryan over Medicare, marathon time

Charlotte, North Carolina (CNN) - Kathleen Sebelius ripped into Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare plan on Tuesday, telling the Ohio delegation in town for the Democratic convention that the GOP-backed proposal would mark the death of the program.

"There is no question," the Health and Human Services secretary said. "It ends Medicare as we know it."

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In his plan, the House Budget Committee chairman proposed replacing Medicare with a system that provides federal subsidies for seniors to purchase their own health care insurance.

Ryan, who was tapped last month to be Mitt Romney's running mate, has seen wide support among the GOP for the plan. The provision passed as part of Ryan's larger budget bill this year in the House but has not moved in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

While Romney has offered praise for Ryan's plan and says the proposal "almost precisely mirrors" his own Medicare plan, the GOP nominee has yet to elaborate on the differences between the two visions.

Sebelius is one of many Democrats aggressively using the idea as a wedge issue in the presidential race, saying a Romney-Ryan ticket would have detrimental results for the senior community.

If implemented, however, Romney and Ryan stress the law would not currently affect those over the age of 55, emphasizing they would retain their current Medicare benefits. The Romney campaign also makes the point that the proposal preserves traditional Medicare as one option for seniors, so that they'll have a choice between the traditional system and the new plan.

But Sebelius, a key advocate for President Obama's health care reform, warns that such a proposal would be too great a risk. She testified against the plan before the House last year when the measure was first proposed, and on Tuesday she continued her fight.

"Gone. Done. There would be no more guaranteed benefits for seniors. There would be guaranteed vouchers," Sebelius said.

A spokesman for Ryan responded to Sebelius' remarks Tuesday afternoon.

“If Kathleen Sebelius would like to compare plans to preserve Medicare, we’d love the opportunity. Instead she’s just repeated what has been dubbed the ‘lie of the year.’ The only plan the President has offered robs $716 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare and then leaves the program to go bankrupt. If the administration really valued Medicare, they wouldn’t be proposing to drive it into the ground,” Bredan Buck said in a statement.

An active runner, the health official also took a swipe at Ryan's recent marathon controversy, blasting the Wisconsin congressman for waffling on his run time at a 1990 marathon.

Runner's World magazine found that he had misstated his time by more than an hour. Ryan originally said in an interview that he ran the 26.2 mile race under an impressively fast time of three hours, but in fact he finished in just over four hours.

Ryan admitted his mistake in a radio interview Monday night, attributing the blunder on a back injury and the passage of time.

"I literally thought that was my time. It was 22 years ago," he said on WTOL. You forget sort of these things. I hurt my back when I was in my mid twenties, so obviously my perception of races and times were off.

Sebelius on Tuesday took the opportunity to roast the congressman, who's known as an exercise junkie, over the dust-up.

"I must confess, I do not do an under-3 hour marathon," Sebelius joked. "Anyone who starts with the notion that you have to make up your marathon time tells you all you need to know about Paul Ryan."

Filed under: 2012 • Kathleen Sebelius • Paul Ryan
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. crush

    This republican golden boy is suggesting a plan based on what he has read about economic theory, specifically in Ayan Rand books. Are voters just supposed to turn over the nation's economy to this guy? He worked at McDonald's and then his family business before heading to congress for 14 years. Obama didn't have a lot of financial experience either, but he wasn't running on a platform to tear down and rebuild our entire system. A corporate raider and a mcdonald's fry cook will be in charge of your medicare.

    September 4, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  2. Obama's America 2016

    I'm sorry but I can't support anyone that supports Partial Birth Abortion like Sebelius does.

    September 4, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  3. The problem

    Paul Ryan is THE PROBLEM in washington. He has NO PROBLEM EXERGERRATING his beliefs as 'being a budget hawk' when a Democrat is in power but, VOTED for all the measures that would balloon the deficit when it was a republican in power...............................Ryan is a big POSER, fake as can be.

    September 4, 2012 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  4. rexdogcanadien

    It takes healthy people to produce wealth and to protect and defend a nation against it's enemies. An unhealthy population can never full fill these tasks. It's time that Americans face the fact that a universal health care system is long over due. Being Healthy is just as important as being wealthy.

    September 4, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  5. Four and The Door

    bob smitley
    ...Ryan's plan would take so much away from the exsiting plan to th epoint where it withers and dies. That is his plan.
    So you are actually saying that you agree so many seniors will choose Defined Premium for their Medicare Plan that the existing system will wither away and die. What's wrong with that? Seniors will choose better quality of care. That's important to them when they need medical care. It's up to seniors, not Ryan. He just gives them another choice and apparently you agree they will like that choice better. I think they will too.

    September 4, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  6. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Medicare and the 16 Trillion Dollar Federal Debt. I wonder which one will end first. IT is time to end Medicare! It has served it's purpose! People can take care of themselves, can't they? No, I guess they can't. They pretty much proved that when they bought houses they couldn't afford. It was all suppoed to work so well. Fanne Mae and Freddy Mac would buy up all those Morgages and all was supposed to just be fine and dandy. So what the Bleep Happened? Too many people had Champagne Taste and a Beer Pocketbook.

    September 4, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Four and The Door wrote:

    Rudy NYC
    "...If VoucherCare is such a good idea for Medicare, then why are they waiting a decade to implement it?"

    I agree with you. Defined Premium is an excellent idea and should be implemented sooner than that. It works right now for members of congress. Finally seniors will get an option for the excellent kind of plan congressmen get!
    Sorry, Four. I don't agree with you at all. "Defined Premium" are just some pretty words designed to impress the uninformed. I don't know what exactly it means, and don't really care, either.

    VoucherCare is a scam. It represents an explosion of government bureacracy as the decade long transition is made to the voucher system. As the transition is made, a framework and bureacracy must be constructed for VoucherCare. The transistion expense would bankrupt the system in less than a decade, which is exactly what VoucherCare is intended to do.

    September 4, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  8. ted

    typical GOP liar. say something outrageous and then blame his back and his age for the lie, rather than just saying 'I am a liar". He also lied about GM in Janesville closing. I think this guy needs to go back to WI and have some cheese. He is not ready for the big time.

    September 4, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  9. Mason

    The DNC is more concerned about Ryan's running than our economy. Not a real suprise since they have nothing to run on.

    September 4, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  10. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I really wonder how long these vouchers would really last. There is the assumption there that the seniors getting these vouchers would be able to get and afford medical insurance if they aren't already denied because of the pre-existing conditions that they have. This also assumes that the vouchers are going to be funded without question. I don't think that is likely either. So, what little money would be there, could vanish in one budget after being there in previous budgets.

    September 4, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  11. ghostriter

    So this is all based upon putting together a pool of insurers that are willing to insure 65 yr old people. How bout Ryan find us a few companies that are willing to insure old folks 1st. Then let them come up with how much it will cost.

    September 4, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  12. Lying Ryan - My memory was distorted by a back injury.

    I ran 26.2 miles in less than three hours.

    Oops! My memory was distorted by a back injury.

    September 4, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Are we supposed to seriously believe that Republicans [who are at war with everything and anyone who hasn't signed the Norquist Pledge] have suddenly had a change of heart on Medicare? We are supposed to believe that Republicans have suddenly become enlightened and dropped their decades long political war to end the program.

    We Built That Program. We, The People, built that program. Now they, the job cremators, want to destroy it.

    September 4, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  14. batjones

    Every coupon that I have seen lists an expiration date. Read the fine print of the Romney-Ryan Coupon Care: Limited to one coupon per family; Non-transferrable; Value of 1/100 cent; Accepted at only Republican brand hospitals.

    September 4, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  15. ghostriter

    Older People Are Much More Likely To Be Among the Top-spending Percentiles

    The elderly (age 65 and over) made up around 13 percent of the U.S. population in 2002, but they consumed 36 percent of total U.S. personal health care expenses. The average health care expense in 2002 was $11,089 per year for elderly people but only $3,352 per year for working-age people (ages 19-64).5 Similar differences among age groups are reflected in the data on the top 5 percent of health care spenders. People 65-79 (9 percent of the total population) represented 29 percent of the top 5 percent of spenders. Similarly, people 80 years and older (about 3 percent of the population) accounted for 14 percent of the top 5 percent of spenders (Chart 2, 40 KB).2 However, within age groups, spending is less concentrated among those age 65 and over than for the under-65 population. The top 5 percent of elderly spenders accounted for 34 percent of all expenses by the elderly in 2002, while the top 5 percent of non-elderly spenders accounted for 49 percent of expenses by the non-elderly.4

    A principal reason why health care spending is spread out more evenly among the elderly is that a much higher proportion of the elderly than the non-elderly have expensive chronic conditions.

    September 4, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  16. Yuri

    One lie after another keeps poppin' and never stoppin'. Let's go shoppin' for a better pol., instead of this whopper-maker from WI.

    September 4, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  17. Fair is Fair

    "VoucherCare is a scam. It represents an explosion of government bureacracy as the decade long transition is made to the voucher system. As the transition is made, a framework and bureacracy must be constructed for VoucherCare. The transistion expense would bankrupt the system in less than a decade, which is exactly what VoucherCare is intended to do."
    Curious as to where you got this information. Perhaps you can cite your source (without the canned "google it man" response). YOU yourself has said that those who CHOOSE to go to defined premium will look to the private market... HOW does that add government bureaucracy? The private market is already in place, isn't it?

    September 4, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |

    Have the republicans no shame. Reducing Grandma's safety net, that she has been paying into for a lifetime, so we can give Romney's sons a tax break.

    September 4, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  19. rob

    And the Dems plan to save Medicare is ????? Thats right, they take 700 BILLION out and give it to Obamacare so they can say that Obamacare does not raise the deficit....WRONG. Everyone knows Medicare and Medicade are not sustainable but the Dems have to cling to the old scare tactics in order to cover up the fact that they HAVE NO PLANS.

    September 4, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. Killbucket

    I think we can safely disregard the entire GOP election effort, and all statements by Paul Ryan in particular, because with this, he's thrown the towel in. Romney must be furious.

    September 4, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  21. Four and The Door

    Every coupon that I have seen lists an expiration date. Read the fine print of the Romney-Ryan Coupon Care: Limited to one coupon per family; Non-transferrable; Value of 1/100 cent; Accepted at only Republican brand hospitals.
    Seniors will not actually get "coupons". What they will get is a choice of plans that the government will pay a defined premium for. And the defined premium will cover not 100% the least expensive plan but 100% of the second least expensive plan. So if seniors choose the least expensive plan, guess what happens to the extra money? They get to keep it. And they get an insurance plan too. If they don't like that system, they stick with what seniors get now. But like I said, most will like the new system. Improvements in quality and cost are not happening with the existing system.

    September 4, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
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