Senate Democrats

Reid Spokesman: Republicans Moving Ahead With Plan To End Social Security & Medicare

Washington, D.C. – Jon Summers, spokesman for Nevada Senator Harry Reid, released the following statement in response to the news that House Republicans are moving forward on a bill the end Medicare as we know it:

“Republicans are trying to carry out their plan to end Social Security and Medicare. In public, Republicans are trying to distance themselves from this extreme plan because they know hard-working Americans don’t want to see Social Security and Medicare ended. But they should stop trying to hide the ball, and just come out and say what has become perfectly clear: that ending Social Security and Medicare is now the official position of the Republican Party.”

BACKGROUND GUIDANCE: This news comes days after Republicans chose Rep. Paul Ryan, the architect of Republican’s plan to end Social Security and Medicare, to deliver their response to the State of the Union. Ryan’s plan has been endorsed by the Republican Majority Leader and the top Republican on the Senate budget committee – and since Rep. Ryan is the chair of the House budget committee, this plan now officially has the backing of the top Republicans on the House and Senate committees that set the funding parameters for both programs.

Under the Medicare portion of the proposal, Americans who depend on Medicare – most of whom are elderly or have pre-existing conditions or illnesses – will have a capped, fixed amount to spend on care. They would be forced to find insurance that can be covered by that amount, which will not exist for many, effectively denying them insurance. Moreover, without the reforms in the Affordable Care Act for limited age rating, no health status rating, and no pre-existing condition exclusions, insurance at an affordable price for anyone in this cohort will not exist in most places.


House GOP to Consider Move to Privatized Medicare

by Matthew DoBias

Thursday, January 27, 2011 | 6:03 a.m.

House Republicans are considering a measure to privatize Medicare that would be included in their alternative to President Obama’s annual budget.

House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas said on Wednesday that he expects Republicans to support a provision to convert Medicare into a voucher system, which would effectively turn the government-backed health care program over to private insurers. Hensarling is the second-ranked Republican on the Budget Committee.

President Obama’s budget proposal will be delivered to Congress next month.

“Unless you deal with Medicare, unless you go into Medicaid, unless you deal with Social Security for future generations—programs that were a great comfort to my grandparents and parents are morphing into a cruel Ponzi scheme for my 8-year-old daughter and my 7-year-old son,” Hensarling said during a panel discussion sponsored by National Journal and The Atlantic.

“You can’t get there from here without those kinds of reforms, so I expect it to be in the budget, I hope it’ll be in the budget, and I would certainly support it,” Hensarling added.

It’s unclear what such a proposal would look like, and Republican leaders have offered few specifics. The voucher proposal is contentious even among many Republicans—and it’s a non-starter among Democrats.

Hensarling said he had not spoken directly to Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., about the measure. “But I would hope most of the Republicans would [support it], because ultimately it will deliver better health care and retirement security at a more reasonable cost than what the government is promising today but can’t deliver.”

Under one scenario championed by Ryan, people who turn 65 on or after January 1, 2021, would receive a voucher to buy private insurance in the “exchanges” expected to be formed by the new health care law. Meanwhile, the eligibility age for Medicare would increase incrementally from its current 65 years of age to 69 for those born in 2022 and later.

The first crop of vouchers would be worth $5,900. Low-income seniors whose health care is paid by Medicaid would instead have access to federally subsidized medical savings accounts, with the government kicking in $6,600 per year.

Federal actuaries have said that such a program would give the Medicare program a stronger financial base and a level of predictability in spending that it does not enjoy now. Vouchers would potentially save the program billions of dollars because they would pay less than Medicare does now per beneficiary.

But it would increase premiums for seniors not accustomed to paying higher rates for their care. And they could sway seniors to buy less comprehensive plans that don’t cover nearly the same services that Medicare does.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., who also participated in the morning discussion, said the voucher idea would have no support among his Democratic colleagues in the Senate.

“I just worry about privatizing Medicare, putting it into a voucher system,” he said. “I think there are going to be a lot of losers in that equation, people who won’t be able to find the health care that they need.”