GOP senators introduce new plan to overhaul Medicare

posted at 3:10 pm on February 16, 2012 by Tina Korbe

Republicans Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.) and Richard Burr (N.C.) today unveiled a plan to revamp Medicare that would accelerate a transition to private insurance, raise the benefit eligibility age and up the premiums paid by middle-class and upper-income seniors. (Avik Roy calls it “the best Medicare reform proposal yet.”)

Coburn said it best when he explained to The Washington Times why they decided to release the plan in an election year, when it’s unlikely to actually go anywhere: “All of us in Congress are running around fixing everything except our biggest problem. If you don’t start fixing Medicare, you can’t save it.”

Overextended entitlement programs are the key drivers of the national debt, and, of the Big Three, Medicare is most in need of reform. Consider: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will consume all tax revenues by 2049, according to The Heritage Foundation’s Budget Chart Book. Medicare spending is adding to future deficits faster than any other program spending.

Yet, politicians continue to avoid the issue. The Senate’s dereliction of duty on a budget matters so much precisely because the appropriations process doesn’t touch entitlements; the yearly budget is the ideal place to take stock of entitlement programs and to make needed adjustments. With no budget in three years, the federal government has operated on autopilot when it comes to entitlements — at a time when it least can afford to do so, as a debt crisis is looming. The Super Committee that grew out of this summer’s debt ceiling showdown also ignored entitlement reform.

Coburn and Burr, then, deserve the respect, praise and attention of their congressional colleagues simply because they had the bravery to bring up an unpopular subject.

They’re not the first to do so, of course; Medicare reform was and is an essential component of Paul Ryan’s Roadmap to Prosperity (although he has subsequently introduced another plan, the Paul-Wyden plan). His Medicare proposal became a key issue in the NY-26 special election, in which Democrat Kathy Hochul defeated Republican Jane Corwin. The election featured what Ryan called “scare tactics, distortions [and] demagoguery” to scare seniors into voting against Medicare reform in the person of Jane Corwin.

The backlash to Ryan’s introduction of his own ideas hasn’t deterred him in the least, however. The Washington Examiner even reports that he’s already working with congenial Democrats to lay a foundation for real reform should Republicans take the White House and Senate in November:

He won’t name names, but House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., revealed this morning that he’s meeting with Democrats to chart reforms on Medicare and taxes should President Obama get the boot in November and the GOP take over.

Medicare is his top issue and he said the two sides are “planting the seeds to reap a bipartisan solution after this election because we know it’s not going to happen before.” Pressed to dish on the Democrats, he said, “I’m not going to give you any names to protect the innocent.” He explained that they are “not wiling to cross” Obama or House and Senate Democratic leaders before the election.But he described them as moderates interested in pushing reforms aimed at pegging benefits to income, meaning the poor get more than the rich, rather than imposing price controls on services. “We don’t have much time before a crisis hits us,” said Ryan. “You’ve got about two or three years America.”
At this point, any discussion of Medicare reform is better than no discussion. Tangible action will have to wait until after November — but, to borrow a phrase from the president, can’t wait much longer than that or there’ll be no Medicare to reform.

Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Looks like FEEEEEVAH got bumped.

Thanks Tina

Eph on February 16, 2012 at 3:13 PM

I don’t understand. ObamaCare already did this.

Chuck Schick on February 16, 2012 at 3:13 PM

Great–now all of us old people are gonna die.

davidk on February 16, 2012 at 3:16 PM

AWESOME ELECTION YEAR STRATEGY !
and the dims are supposed to be the donkeys!
as granny goes over the cliff……..

FlaMurph on February 16, 2012 at 3:17 PM

STOP TRYING TO FIX IT, KILL IT.

The party of STUPID.

clippermiami on February 16, 2012 at 3:17 PM

Yet, politicians continue to avoid the issue. The Senate’s dereliction of duty on a budget matters so much precisely because the appropriations process doesn’t touch entitlements; the yearly budget is the ideal place to take stock of entitlement programs and to make needed adjustments. With no budget in three years, the federal government has operated on autopilot when it comes to entitlements — at a time when it least can afford to do so, as a debt crisis is looming. The Super Committee that grew out of this summer’s debt ceiling showdown also ignored entitlement reform.

That’s good writin’ right there.

davidk on February 16, 2012 at 3:18 PM

Ryan appears to be the only one in DC with a set of cojones.

J.H. on February 16, 2012 at 3:22 PM

Why don’t they ask Newt and Rick how to kill Medicare?

Notorious GOP on February 16, 2012 at 3:22 PM

He won’t name names, but House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., revealed this morning that he’s meeting with Democrats to chart reforms on Medicare and taxes should President Obama get the boot in November and the GOP take over.

If Obama “gets the boot” in November, Ryan won’t need Democrat votes in the House to reform Medicare, but Coburn and Burr will need Democrat votes in the Senate, since it is extremely unlikely that Republicans will get 60 Senators in 2012.

Steve Z on February 16, 2012 at 3:25 PM

and up the premiums paid by middle-class and upper-income seniors.

So they want to make it more progressive? How’s that conservative?

abobo on February 16, 2012 at 3:25 PM

election year, grandma, good luck.

sesquipedalian on February 16, 2012 at 3:27 PM

My rock stars used to be Zeplin, Boston, ELO, etc. Now they’re Paul Ryan, Allen West, Jim Demint, etc. Sheesh, when did I get old? :)

chickie on February 16, 2012 at 3:27 PM

The entire GOP endorses Obamacare. They proved that yesterday when they went all in for the “doc fix.”

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 3:30 PM

and up the premiums paid by middle-class

This, combined with more freebies for the low end and lower taxes at the high end. Thid is the GOP plan for everything. The New Deal coalition pits both ends against the middle. When the middle goes over to the Dems, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 3:32 PM

…Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will consume all tax revenues…

So they way to “fix” them is to – add as many people as possible to Medicare – and make those costs the sole responsibility of the states (Obamacare), Make Medicaid progressive, and stop paying into the social security system (the payroll tax holiday)?
Cause that’s what they are doing.

um’kay.

batterup on February 16, 2012 at 3:33 PM

election year, grandma, good luck.

sesquipedalian on February 16, 2012 at 3:27 PM

inevitable bankruptcy, grandma, good luck.

lorien1973 on February 16, 2012 at 3:33 PM

This, combined with more freebies for the low end and lower taxes at the high end.

btw, that ^^^ is how the Republicans (not the Dems) took half the country off the income tax rolls. It’s the deal they always cut.

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 3:33 PM

OK, I will quit telling the truth about that, because it’s unpleasant. But someone please notice before it’s too late. k?

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 3:36 PM

GOP senators introduce new plan to overhaul Medicare

This will be fun to watch.

I’m sure that Republican Tom Coburn’s good friends, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats will be right there pulling with him and saying what a nice fellow he is.

RJL on February 16, 2012 at 3:37 PM

The programs like Medicare are like intestinal worms. Either they are killed quickly, or they’ll grow large enough to die with the host.

Archivarix on February 16, 2012 at 3:37 PM

election year, grandma, good luck.

sesquipedalian on February 16, 2012 at 3:27 PM

U.S. funding for future promises lags by trillions
By Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY

The federal government’s financial condition deteriorated rapidly last year, far beyond the $1.5 trillion in new debt taken on to finance the budget deficit, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

The government added $5.3 trillion in new financial obligations in 2010, largely for retirement programs such as Medicare and Social Security. That brings to a record $61.6 trillion the total of financial promises not paid for.

Link

Liberalism 101: create a massive hole making promises you have no intention of keeping with money you don’t have. Demonize those who dare to fix it while you sit on your ass doing nothing.

Chuck Schick on February 16, 2012 at 3:37 PM

Since the “trust funds” for all of these programs are flagrant lies, why not say that the program is already funded and the hike in premiums is to pay for more bribes to Egypt?

It all comes from the same pile.

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 3:38 PM

Liberals can’t seem to come up with a budget, much less a solution to a budget crisis. At least we have someone that is trying to help our country, even if the odds of success are long.

search4truth on February 16, 2012 at 3:40 PM

GOP senators introduce new plan to overhaul Medicare
…debbie downer “I know nothing, NOTHING” schult has already issued her predicable civil-discourse statement:

“The GOP wants to KILL all seniors.”

TeaPartyNation on February 16, 2012 at 3:40 PM

and up the premiums paid by middle-class

This, combined with more freebies for the low end and lower taxes at the high end. Thid is the GOP plan for everything. The New Deal coalition pits both ends against the middle. When the middle goes over to the Dems, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 3:32 PM

and up the premiums paid by middle-class and upper-income seniors.

Perhaps you might want to include the WHOLE phrase instead of your bias-selected one.

Bitter Clinger on February 16, 2012 at 3:43 PM

The ponzi scheme continues.

I find it stunning, how something that would be illegal in any other form, is legal – because the Congress made it so.

You can’t do it – but the government can.

OhEssYouCowboys on February 16, 2012 at 3:43 PM

Coburn is a CINO……..and a HUGE McCain man.

PappyD61 on February 16, 2012 at 3:43 PM

Granting the desperate need for reform. Granting that Coburn and Burr have made a commendable start. We still have one overwhelming problem.

In the last few days alone; John Boehner, Institutional Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives has caved on the concept of getting spending cuts to offset the continuation of the payroll tax cut. The theory originally was that Obama would not dare have more taken out of paychecks before the election, so he was sure to accept the spending cuts. Might have worked, except that Boehner unilaterally gave up to avoid bad press [as if that is ever possible] and got absolutely nothing in return. Obama is campaigning now as the savior of the tax cut.

In the same period of time, Boehner cut a deal to limit any investigations and punishments of those responsible for the Federal “Fast and Furious” program to a few underlings. After all, it would be framed as being mean-spirited if criminals of high rank were punished, or even forced to stop. What did he get for it? Nothing.

Same thing in the same time period on the extension of Unemployment benefits.

Ditto on the Medicare doctor fix.

McConnell in the Senate said a week ago that they could not stand up and fight against the Democrats till after November.

Can anyone offer a rational, fact specific, basis for believing that this group of lop-eared duds would not cave over Medicare and let Obama, Reid, and Pelosi rewrite the program to match their version of race and class based equity?

Subotai Bahadur on February 16, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Like Social Security, just let me opt out, keep my money, and take care of myself.

Use general tax revenue to create a real safety net for the poor only and not a hammock for the middle class.

Charlemagne on February 16, 2012 at 3:47 PM

Liberalism 101: create a massive hole making promises you have no intention of keeping with money you don’t have. Demonize those who dare to fix it …

Chuck Schick on February 16, 2012 at 3:37 PM

I’ll tell you how it is. If you want to close many departments wholesale, end payments to regimes abroad, end the Bush tax cuts, and cut every damn department and program (everyone of them) at least 20% across the board,… yeah then let’s fix entitlements.

But as it is, the middle is waking up to the fact that they take it in the ___ every time. You are not going to end entitlements on the low end. You don’t have the guts. You are going to cuts taxes drastically on the high end. The net benefit dwarfs absolutely what someone in the middle gets in “benefits.” You are not going to roll back all the waste abroad. The whole burden is going to fall in the middle.

The middle may actualy be ready to let the whole she-bang collapse out of spite. I’m telling you right. Everyone else is getting theirs. They have watched this for years.

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 3:49 PM

That was a friendly explanation, btw. Seriously.

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 3:51 PM

If Obama “gets the boot” in November, Ryan won’t need Democrat votes in the House to reform Medicare, but Coburn and Burr will need Democrat votes in the Senate, since it is extremely unlikely that Republicans will get 60 Senators in 2012.

Steve Z on February 16, 2012 at 3:25 PM

lets just hope the GOP gets 51 seats. This way we can dump Reid.

timberline on February 16, 2012 at 3:53 PM

And we are almost out of time.

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 3:54 PM

Ryan appears to be the only one in DC with a set of cojones.

J.H. on February 16, 2012 at 3:22 PM

And yet his much vaunted budget didn’t actually cut anything… it still increased the budget, but not by as much… so it was deemed a “massive cut”. Cuz that’s what passes for a ‘cut’ in Washingtonease.

gravityman on February 16, 2012 at 3:54 PM

and up the premiums paid by middle-class and upper-income seniors.

Perhaps you might want to include the WHOLE phrase instead of your bias-selected one.

Bitter Clinger on February 16, 2012 at 3:43 PM

As I said, the tax cuts on the high end well more than compensate on the high end. It is the sweetest deal ever. And only appears to be common sacrifice.

Try to pay attention. I’m telling you right.

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 3:56 PM

If Obama “gets the boot” in November, Ryan won’t need Democrat votes in the House to reform Medicare, but Coburn and Burr will need Democrat votes in the Senate, since it is extremely unlikely that Republicans will get 60 Senators in 2012.

Steve Z on February 16, 2012 at 3:25 PM

Actually, it could be legitimately called a budgetary issue, which would mean it can’t be fillibustered and therefore only require 51 votes. If ObamaCare can be budgetary and only require 51, then a fiscal reform of a massive entitlement spending program certainly can be.

gravityman on February 16, 2012 at 3:57 PM

As I said, the tax cuts on the high end well more than compensate on the high end. It is the sweetest deal ever. And only appears to be common sacrifice.

Try to pay attention. I’m telling you right.

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 3:56 PM

What “tax cuts on the high end”? That’s a figment of your imagination.

Bitter Clinger on February 16, 2012 at 4:00 PM

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 3:49 PM

Things are easy when you ignore the real problems you people have created for this country and just regurgitate the party line isn’t it?

You people don’t have the guts to repeal the Bush tax cuts.

Chuck Schick on February 16, 2012 at 4:00 PM

and up the premiums paid by middle-class and upper-income seniors.

Perhaps you might want to include the WHOLE phrase instead of your bias-selected one.

Bitter Clinger on February 16, 2012 at 3:43 PM

As I said, the tax cuts on the high end well more than compensate on the high end. It is the sweetest deal ever. And only appears to be common sacrifice.

Try to pay attention. I’m telling you right.

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 3:56 PM

In fact, and with all due respect, the deception that you are attempting to perpetrate there, as if the high end would not get 10x-plus in tax reductions what they would lose in benefits is exactly the thing that the middle has caught on to.

They don’t want to be the only ones “taking one for the team.” Hell, you want to cut their benies and provide free medical in Iraq, build schools in Afghanistan, and pay bribes to Egypt at the same time? Dude.

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 4:02 PM

You will up benies on the low end as part of the deal. It always goes like that.

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 4:03 PM

and up the premiums paid by middle-class and upper-income seniors

OK, and who pays for the lower classes?

Still sounds like the Great Society thing.

Dr. ZhivBlago on February 16, 2012 at 4:05 PM

I am talking about balancing the budget at the same time that you cut benies. Do you not get that? Everything has to be cut to the bone. On that condition, people will go along with the sacrifice.

But to cut benies to the middle and then everything else is business as usual, not so much…

You are going to compel them to join the dems with truly epic-making results. I am only trying to warn you.

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 4:05 PM

I am talking about balancing the budget at the same time that you cut benies. Do you not get that? Everything has to be cut to the bone. On that condition, people will go along with the sacrifice.

But to cut benies to the middle and then everything else is business as usual, not so much…

You are going to compel them to join the dems with truly epic-making results. I am only trying to warn you.

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 4:05 PM

Time for a munchie run. You’re incoherent.

Chuck Schick on February 16, 2012 at 4:06 PM

Time for a munchie run. You’re incoherent.

Chuck Schick on February 16, 2012 at 4:06 PM

That is plain English. It’s not incoherent.

And it’s not unfriendly, either.

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 4:09 PM

In fact, and with all due respect, the deception that you are attempting to perpetrate there, as if the high end would not get 10x-plus in tax reductions what they would lose in benefits is exactly the thing that the middle has caught on to.

They don’t want to be the only ones “taking one for the team.” Hell, you want to cut their benies and provide free medical in Iraq, build schools in Afghanistan, and pay bribes to Egypt at the same time? Dude.

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 4:02 PM

I don’t even know what you just said there. And I don’t think it can be translated by anyone either.

Bitter Clinger on February 16, 2012 at 4:11 PM

Like Social Security, just let me opt out, keep my money, and take care of myself.

Use general tax revenue to create a real safety net for the poor only and not a hammock for the middle class.

Charlemagne on February 16, 2012 at 3:47 PM

ABSOLUTELY!

Here’s my suggested approach…

Let me choose whether or not to opt in to Social Security and/or Medicare. If I opt out of Social Security, have the money automatically go into a 401K of my choice for me to manage. If I opt out of Medicare, have the money automatically go into an HSA of my choice for me to use out of.

I wonder who would be better off… the person who opts out, or the one who stays in. I know which I would choose!

dominigan on February 16, 2012 at 4:12 PM

If Obama “gets the boot” in November, Ryan won’t need Democrat votes in the House to reform Medicare, but Coburn and Burr will need Democrat votes in the Senate, since it is extremely unlikely that Republicans will get 60 Senators in 2012.

Steve Z on February 16, 2012 at 3:25 PM

They don’t need no stinken 60 Senators if they take the White house, a dozen czars here and there, a few guns smuggled in from Mexico as a distraction, ignore the judges or investigate them and impeach them, bypass the senate, use a few million regulations in that fluid flexible Obamacare law to return the nation to sanity -after all -it is whatever the White house says it is,

Obama/messiah has shown the way – use it GOP and watch the smoke as the left heats up.

Don L on February 16, 2012 at 4:14 PM

That is plain English. It’s not incoherent.

And it’s not unfriendly, either.

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 4:09 PM

Tax hikes and benefit cuts are coming for the poor and middle class- and they will be deep and painful. No way around it. Look in the mirror for the culprit. You parasites can’t suck forever- the host eventually craps out.

Another win for the American people:

Obama’s own treasury secretary declares Obama budget unsustainable for second year in a row

Chuck Schick on February 16, 2012 at 4:14 PM

Obama Demagogue in 3, 2, 1…

HopeHeFails on February 16, 2012 at 4:16 PM

ObamaCare has already brought Utopian medical care to America, why do they hate Utopia?

Bishop on February 16, 2012 at 4:17 PM

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 3:49 PM

Things are easy when you ignore the real problems you people have created for this country and just regurgitate the party line isn’t it?

You people don’t have the guts to repeal the Bush tax cuts.

Chuck Schick on February 16, 2012 at 4:00 PM

Dude, I am so far to (what you call) the right of you, it would make you tremble. You make me laugh with the “you people” bit. If only you knew…

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 4:18 PM

Chuck Schick on February 16, 2012 at 4:00 PM

I’m telling you that the GOP party line is insufficient and we are running out of time.

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 4:19 PM

Dude, I am so far to (what you call) the right of you, it would make you tremble. You make me laugh with the “you people” bit. If only you knew…

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 4:18 PM

Who said I’m not trembling now?

Chuck Schick on February 16, 2012 at 4:25 PM

At least somebody is trying to do the job that they are paid to do. Whether or not this is the right answer, I don’t know, but I’m glad to see somebody in Congress acting for the good of the country, and not just naked political interests

jayhawkingeorgia on February 16, 2012 at 4:28 PM

When Congress first established Medicare in 1965 for Americans 65 and older, the average life expectancy in the US was 70.2. Now, it’s 78.7 years. So, average Medicare eligibility during one’s life went from 5.2 years to 13.7 years. A 150% increase in the period of eligibility needs to be met with changes to eligibility criteria.

Source: http://www.data360.org/dsg.aspx?Data_Set_Group_Id=195

blammm on February 16, 2012 at 4:29 PM

I thought this was a do-nothing party and in general a party of no. At least that is what Obama tells us.

Chances are this means nothing for Obama, and he will continue to say Republicans do nothing but obstruct his grand ideas.

milcus on February 16, 2012 at 4:45 PM

Great–now all of us old people are gonna die.

davidk on February 16, 2012 at 3:16 PM

C’mon, you were gonna die anyway.

Now you’ll die quicker, and the government will be able to save the money it would have spent on your healthcare and use it for something really useful — like a “gender reassignment” surgery for a troubled illegal alien drug addict.

AZCoyote on February 16, 2012 at 4:55 PM

The entire GOP endorses Obamacare. They proved that yesterday when they went all in for the “doc fix.”
kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 3:30 PM

What was the alternative? Have all doctors refuse to treat Medicare patients?

Buy Danish on February 16, 2012 at 5:08 PM

When Congress first established Medicare in 1965 for Americans 65 and older, the average life expectancy in the US was 70.2. Now, it’s 78.7 years. So, average Medicare eligibility during one’s life went from 5.2 years to 13.7 years. A 150% increase in the period of eligibility needs to be met with changes to eligibility criteria.

Source: http://www.data360.org/dsg.aspx?Data_Set_Group_Id=195

blammm on February 16, 2012 at 4:29 PM

All true, and ditto on Social Security. A problem however is that while life expectancy has increased, the employability of someone 65 years old or thereabouts has not increased in a similar fashion. What to do about that?

slickwillie2001 on February 16, 2012 at 5:13 PM

milcus on February 16, 2012 at 4:45 PM

It’s not a do-nothing Congress, it’s a do-nothing Democrat controlled Senate. Bang the drum loudly…..

jb34461 on February 16, 2012 at 5:13 PM

I shudder at another term for Ogabe. But I could live with that if we kept control of the House and won a majority in the Senate. And that is my primary focus from now through October. Control Congress.

jb34461 on February 16, 2012 at 5:17 PM

Chuck Schick on February 16, 2012 at 4:25 PM

Ok, dat der was funny.

kunegetikos on February 16, 2012 at 5:21 PM

election year, grandma, good luck.

sesquipedalian on February 16, 2012 at 3:27 PM

Right.

What you Obamabots forget is that senior citizens are very well aware of how little you want to pay and contribute.

When the money gets short, they know better than to think you’re going to accept a tax increase (which you don’t pay now) and the government not paying for your cell phones and your 99 weeks of unemployment.

They are the ones who are going to get the short end of the stick when the money runs out, and they know it.

So they’re voting against Oblahblah and his party, since they know that Oblahblah that has every intention of taking the money that grandma paid in for over four decades of her working life and using it to pay the abortion bill for your girlfriends.

northdallasthirty on February 16, 2012 at 5:22 PM

This group is so far out of reality. They can’t even come up with a budget. How can we expect that they can come up with a new plan for medicare. When will they come up with A NEW PLAN TO RUN CONGRESS. I know, never unless WE THE PEOPLE retake our Constitutional Government and reform their operation for them.

jpcpt03 on February 16, 2012 at 5:52 PM

At this point, one can only hope that Barry will be booted out in November. Might I suggest that he get kicked in a more appropriate place than his rear end?

GarandFan on February 16, 2012 at 5:56 PM

“If you don’t start fixing Medicare, you can’t save it.”

Good for them. At least it’s another idea, even if the Dems tank it.

Maybe the GOP should say to them: hey, if you pass this reform you can fund a thousand Solyndras every year and still be solvent!! Reform = Unlimited Earmarks!

PattyJ on February 16, 2012 at 6:22 PM

Math is hard!

KOOLAID2 on February 16, 2012 at 7:30 PM