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Debt Commission Debates Overhaul of Medicare


DP Veteran
Dec 20, 2009
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Some good ideas, and it's especially good to see Democrats (any Democrats) willing to look fiscal reality in the face. I like the notion also of turning Medicaid into a block grant; it seems that this would build on the success of the bipartisan Welfare Reform of the 90's to bring similar benefits to that program.

President Barack Obama's deficit commission on Wednesday debated a dramatic plan to gradually turn Medicare from a system in which the government pays most beneficiaries' medical bills into a program in which seniors would purchase health insurance with government-issued vouchers.

Current Medicare beneficiaries wouldn't be affected, nor would future enrollees age 55 or over.

The plan by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Democratic economist Alice Rivlin of the panel would seem to face steep odds with most other panel Democrats...

Panel Democrat Alice Rivlin - a deficit hawk - endorsed the plan, which would not change the Medicare programs for current enrollees or for those 55 and older. The new system would start in 2021. The eligibility age for Medicare would gradually increase from 65 to 67.

Ryan's plan is tough medicine but the future chairman of the House Budget Committee says it is needed to prevent Medicare from bankrupting the country.

"Medicare's open-ended, fee-for-service model distorts the health-care market, inflates costs and invites fraud and abuse," Ryan wrote in a post on The New York Times website. "With tens of trillions of dollars in unfunded promises, Medicare is on an unsustainable trajectory, and yet 'do-nothing' politicians irresponsibly insist the program remain on autopilot."..

The Ryan-Rivlin blueprint would also, in 2013, overhaul the Medicaid program for the poor and disabled by providing block grants to states instead of the current federal-state partnership...

politically this is supposed to be suicide, blah blah blah, but consider for a moment the implications of the fact that this is President Obama's commission. Republicans can run on a platform of favoring the Presidents bipartisan commission, while Democrats will have to explain how they justify throwing fiscal sanity and bipartisanship to the wind in order to wreck the US economy.
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