GOP Link Of Medicare Plan To FEHBP Faulted; ‘Premium Support’ Once Had Bipartisan SupportThe Washington Post: GOP Lawmakers Tout Medicare Reform By Stretching A Comparison To The Health Benefits They Receive
During the congressional recess, Rep. Ryan and other Republican lawmakers have been selling their proposal to restructure Medicare with what appears to be a poll-tested phrase: It will be similar to a system "just like" what members of Congress have. ... The focus on "a system just like members of Congress and federal employees have" suggests that this would be something better than the typical employee plan. But it will not have a key feature of the current plan - a promise that the government will pick up 75 percent of the health-care tab (Kessler, 4/29).
The Washington Post: GOP Plan To Change Medicare Is Rooted In Bipartisan History
The Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare finished its work in 1999. But a dozen years later, the core ideas - championed then by a centrist Louisiana Democrat, Sen. John Breaux, and a brainy and acerbic chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Republican Bill Thomas of California - live on in the proposal to change Medicare that the House has embraced in recent weeks. The proposed change is known as "premium support," because the government would pay part of the insurance premiums charged by private insurers that compete for older Americans' business. The idea's lineage reflects a more complicated reality than either political party acknowledges today. Although Democrats are now vilifying it as a dangerous creation of the GOP, it has had Republican and Democratic proponents alike for more than three decades (Goldstein, 5/1).
The Hill: GOP Remains United So Far On Medicare Proposals In Budget
House Republicans have stayed united behind a budget proposal imposing major changes to Medicare after a two-week recess highlighted by attacks on the plan. Polls show the public is worried about the proposal to replace Medicare with subsidies for private coverage. ... So far, that hasn't caused GOP support for the plan to unravel, though Republicans have consistently avoided discussing the Medicare proposal on its own, preferring to talk about it as one piece of a comprehensive deficit reduction effort (Pecquet and Baker, 4/30).
Politico: Paul Ryan Boots Medicare Heckler From Town Hall
Rep. Paul Ryan had local police remove a man from his town hall meeting Friday after he kept yelling about how Ryan's budget plan would impact Medicare. It was the most dramatic moment yet in Ryan's weeklong series of town halls, and it happened in one of the most Democratic areas of his district. Ryan warned the man once and then asked the cops to get him out. "We're going to ask you to leave if you're not going to be a polite person," Ryan said. During a week of town hall meetings in his district, Ryan has drawn overflow crowds that are a mix of supporters and opponents. His comments on Medicare were greeted with both cheers and boos all week (Haberkorn, 4/29).
The Hill: Republican Address Pushes Back On Medicare, Gas Prices
Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) pushed back against Democrats Saturday on two issues that have been dominating the political debate: entitlement reform and energy policy. Lankford contradicted Democratic claims that House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget plan would eliminate Medicare for Baby Boomers. "Let me be clear: the Republican plan would not affect current Medicare beneficiaries, or any American 55 or older," Lankford said Saturday in the Republican weekly address. "To address Medicare's looming insolvency though, we put in place a plan to save Medicare for those under 55," Lankford continued. "We want them to have access to the same kind of medical retirement options that Members of Congress and all federal employees benefit from" (Strauss, 4/30).
San Francisco Chronicle: Feinstein Issues Call To Arms To State Democrats
Lambasting what she called the Republicans' and the Tea Party's "radical ideological agenda," Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Saturday called on California Democrats to gear up for a battle to protect collective bargaining, Medicare and services to the poor and the elderly. "The far right wing and the Tea Party have entered into the political arena with a singular mission -- to cut government so it cannot serve our people," she told a crowd of 1,800 delegates gathered in the Sacramento Convention Center for the California Democratic Party's three-day state convention. "They have tried systematically to disassemble the American dream" (Marinucci, 5/1).
NPR: Medicare's Math Problem: Taxes - Benefits = Trouble
How did the current system become so unbalanced? It has to do, (Eugene Steuerle, a former Treasury Department official and senior fellow at Washington's Urban Institute) says, with the way Medicare was built to work - by passing on an individual retiree's health care costs to the wide pool of current taxpayers. ... A system like that works all right if health care costs stay low. But over the past few decades, they've risen dramatically. There are more and more people entering the Medicare system. Those people live increasingly longer lives. And most importantly, Steuerle says, no one is in charge of saying "no" to medical-cost inflation. ... That average, 66-year-old couple Steuerle talks about didn't really pay taxes for their own Medicare benefits, he says; they paid for their parents'. That's the way the system works: Current taxes pay for the benefits that go to current Medicare recipients (4/30). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.