KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Romney Unveils Plan To Revamp Medicare, Medicaid

The Boston Globe: Romney Proposes Wide Cuts To Budget
Mitt Romney unveiled a sweeping budget-cutting plan yesterday that would make significant cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and dramatically shrink the federal government, slashing funding to Amtrak and programs supporting the arts and public broadcasting. If elected president, the former Massachusetts governor said, he would gradually increase the eligibility age for Medicare and Social Security and turn Medicaid into a block-grant program that would cap payments to states for health care for the poor and disabled at fixed amounts (Slack, 11/5).

The Associated Press: Romney Proposal Would Privatize Part Of Medicare
He addressed the lightning-rod issue and other spending cuts during a fiscal policy speech before an afternoon gathering of conservative activists at the Washington Convention Center, where the tea party-allied group Americans for Prosperity is holding a two-day event. ... On Medicare, Romney's plan is remarkably similar to the controversial proposal released by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan earlier in the year. Romney hasn't finalized many details, but he would offer future Medicare recipients an effective voucher to spend on private insurance or a version of the traditional program (Peoples, 11/4).

The New York Times: Romney Debt Plan Includes Medicare Overhaul And Social Security Changes
Mr. Romney’s proposal would give beneficiaries the option of enrolling in private health care plans, using what he, like Mr. Ryan, called a “premium support system.” But unlike the Ryan plan, Mr. Romney’s would allow older people to keep traditional Medicare as an option. However, if the existing government program proved more expensive and charged higher premiums, the participants would be responsible for paying the difference. He presented his plan as offering more choice — though younger Americans would need to be prepared to possibly pay more, for instance, depending on which plan they selected (Parker, 11/4).

Politico: Romney Dodges Ryan In Medicare Plan 
But Romney's proposal parts ways with Ryan in one critical way: Unlike Ryan's plan, Romney would keep traditional Medicare as one option for seniors. The greatest criticism of Ryan's plan was that he would have changed the traditional Medicare program for future seniors — turning it into a system of subsidies for private insurance — without giving them the option of staying in the original program.  ... Romney's plan would provide seniors the option of traditional Medicare or getting "premium support" to obtain a private insurance plan with similar benefits. He didn't specify how stringent the requirements would be or how much the premium support would be (Haberkorn, 11/4).

The Los Angeles Times: Romney Presents Plan To Cut $500 Billion From Federal Budget
Romney underscored that there would be no changes to Social Security or Medicare for Americans who are at or near retirement. Perhaps to shield Romney from attacks as the campaign grows more heated, many of the most controversial aspects of the plan were hazy. It was unclear, for example, how a potential Romney administration would set the level of premium support for Medicare and how much that defined amount would increase as medical costs continue to skyrocket. Though Romney said wealthier seniors would be asked to pay more than low-income seniors, he did not explain how those differentiations would be made (Reston and Mehta, 11/5).

The Wall Street Journal: Romney Proposes Voucher Option For Medicare Plan
The Romney Medicare plan could become a hallmark of the presidential campaign of 2012 should he win the Republican nomination. Democrats had already planned to make the Ryan Medicare plan, which they call privatization, a centerpiece of their efforts to unseat Republicans in Congress. Now Mr. Romney has thrust the future of Medicare more directly into the presidential race. Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for the Obama re-election campaign, charged that Mr. Romney's budget proposal "would leave millions of older Americans to fend for themselves" under a privatized Medicare. Romney campaign aides reject the term "privatization" to describe their approach (Weisman and O'Connor, 11/5).

The Washington Post: Romney: Overhaul Medicare And Social Security To Reduce Debt
Romney faced fire from Democrats, too, who employed the same line of attack against his proposals that they used against Ryan’s plan. James Kvall, Obama’s campaign policy director, wrote in a memorandum to reporters that Romney would be “ending Medicare and Medicaid as we know them.” Kvall tried to cast Romney as a champion of the wealthy at the expense of those in the middle and working classes (Rucker, 11/4).

The Hill: Romney Proposes Entitlement Reform As Part Of Fiscal Policy
Romney unveiled details of his plan to reform Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as president. In his speech, he acknowledged that entitlement reform is a tricky subject and characterized himself as the only candidate capable of making the necessary, difficult choices to enact reform. “In their current form, these programs will go bankrupt. I know that, you know that, and even our friends in the other party know that,” Romney said, steering clear of mentioning any of his rivals in the Republican field. “The difference is that I will be honest about strengthening and preserving them, and they won’t” (Cohn, 11/4).

CNN: Romney Proposes $500 Billion In Cuts By 2016
The biggest cost-saver under his plan would be a proposal to let individual states manage Medicaid and limit the program's growth to the consumer price index, plus one percent. That would save the government $100 billion a year, Romney said (Hamby, 11/4).  

TIME has a transcript of Romney's remarks.

See related KHN articles:

Study Finds Raising Medicare Age Would Shift Costs (Carey, 3/29). 

CBO: Seniors Would Pay Much More For Medicare Under Ryan Plan

Understanding Rep. Ryan's Plan For Medicare



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