MRC Says Beware
From the Medicare Rights Center: "Make no mistake, the Ryan-Wyden proposal is a voucher program designed to make people with Medicare spend more for their health care so that the federal government spends less -- with some bells and whistles that sound attractive, especially when key details are left out."
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White House Also Concerned
From the White House: "The Obama administration expressed concern Thursday over the bipartisan Medicare reform proposal that has been hammered out between Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), saying it believes the plan could weaken the program. 'We are concerned that Wyden-Ryan, like Congressman Ryan’s earlier proposal, would undermine, rather than strengthen, Medicare,' said White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer."
"'The Wyden-Ryan scheme could, over time, cause the traditional Medicare program to 'wither on the vine' because it would raise premiums, forcing many seniors to leave traditional Medicare and join private plans. And it would shift costs from the government to seniors. At the end of the day, this plan would end Medicare as we know it for millions of seniors. Wyden-Ryan is the wrong way to reform Medicare.'"
I guess the standards for a "bi-partisan" proposal are pretty slim. I think this can rightly be referred to as a "so-called bi-partisan" proposal. In fact, it's likely to be a mis-guided Democrat who has mis-stepped. Maybe Sen. Wyden is sincere, but this proposal is no friend to the aged, the disabled, or anyone who cares about them, whether they are veterans, health care workers, families, or whoever else. This plan is a bad idea and will hurt people. The White House is right to be concerned, but this is a single Senator exercising his political right to introduce legislation. There's no reason to make it bigger than the minor event it is. There's no reason the Democrats have to feel that the idea of one Senator means the Democrat party is in shreds or able to be attacked for the act of one person.
From Robert Creamer: "Today, Republican House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan will present his new 'bi-partisan compromise' plan to a meeting of an outfit known as the 'Bipartisan Policy Center.' Ryan's latest proposal would allow individuals to choose between traditional Medicare or vouchers that provide 'premium support' for private insurance plans. Here's what you need to know about Ryan's latest attempt to repackage his hugely unpopular proposal to eliminate Medicare and replace it with vouchers for private insurance:" Mr. Creamer then discusses five key reasons why we must beware of this proposal.
Recommended reading. Mr. Creamer makes many excellent points here, and he backs them up with reliable facts and rational thinking. Clearly, Republicans want to control Medicare (and Medicaid) much more than they want to control costs. Clearly, their agenda remains, and Medicare is a target of destruction.
"Anyone who thought that the 2012 election battle over health care would be a simple matter between President Barack Obama and a candidate who wants to privatize Medicare and 'repeal Obamacare' is waking up to new complications today, as Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) are teaming up on a new Medicare reform plan that has both men pitching and yawing leftward and rightward from their previous positions."
"As Brian Beutler and Benjy Sarlin put it, this plan is going to 'turn the fight over Medicare on its head.' It could also alter the competitive dynamics of the 2012 race in significant ways. Will the plan improve the lives of ordinary Americans, though? That's debatable."
Political Fallout -- And Maybe a Falling Out
"Sen. Ron Wyden wants to assure his colleagues he hasn’t undermined them politically. In a head-turning move, Wyden announced Wednesday that he’s teamed up with House GOP budget chair Paul Ryan on a policy framework to partially privatize Medicare." "What he’s alluding to here is the concern that, by teaming up with Ryan, he’ll give GOP candidates in 2012 -- and particularly the GOP presidential candidate in 2012, cover from charges that they support radical, conservative overhauls to Medicare. This is an albatross the entire GOP has had to deal with since voting en masse for Ryan’s long-term budget, which included an even more dramatic plan to phase out traditional Medicare altogether. Wyden says those fears are overblown."
We disagree with Sen. Wyden, no matter how well meaning (or naive) he might be. We know full well how extreme and nasty the Conservative Republicans can be when attacking Democrats, and this just gives them an opening. For example, anyone who disagrees with these Conservative Republicans -- no matter how moderate -- is branded as "left wing" or "Liberal" -- as if those were bad things. This plan, at its heart, is no better than Mr. Ryan's first plan. It's a major political mis-step for Sen. Wyden. From a political perspective, Democrats should just let it go as the opinion of one Senator -- not any indication at all of the actual measure of bi-partisanship on this issue.
Sins of Omission
From Kaiser Health News: "A new Medicare overhaul plan touted as a serious bipartisan approach was unveiled today, but it leaves out key details about how it would avoid raising seniors’ premiums." "Wyden said that the new plan should appeal to progressives and conservatives. But some Democrats disagreed. Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., a liberal, said the proposal 'ends Medicare as we know it, plain and simple. If these two get their way, senior citizens’ health coverage will depend on what big insurance offers and what seniors -- most of them on modest, fixed incomes -- can afford. That combination will jeopardize health and economic security for seniors.'"
Once again, Kaiser Health News offers straightforward reporting. It's a helpful article for adding more detail to the above more politically oriented pieces.
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