Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin plans on Tuesday to introduce a proposal to overhaul the nation’s Medicare and Medicaid programs that is almost identical what the GOP presented in its presidential platform during the election.
Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee and the 2012 vice presidential candidate, plans to propose letting seniors buy private insurance or remain in Medicare, The Wall Street Journal
reports. The premiums would be subsidized by the federal government.
Medicaid would be converted into a block-grant program, The Journal reports.
Hundreds of billions of dollars would be saved over 10 years under the Ryan plan, though costs for Medicare beneficiaries would increase — and the number of Medicaid recipients would be sharply reduced, The Journal reports.
In addition, the Ryan plan would repeal Obamacare.
Republicans have backed these proposals, all championed during the 2012 election, but the Democrats that control the Senate have never supported them, The Journal reports.
Democrats have since cited Ryan’s plans as a key reason behind their victory in November — and said they plan to use the congressman’s proposals to target 14 House GOP members who are planning to seek senate seats in 2014.
The legislators are “preparing to walk the plank on the new Republican budget,” Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told The Journal on Monday. “We plan on holding them accountable.”
Ryan’s plan last year to block-grant Medicaid would have reduced spending by $770 billion over 10 years — or by about 17 percent, he said. The Medicare changes would have saved $205 billion — or 3 percent — over 10 years, The Journal reports.
Looking beyond the next decade, the impact would be even greater, as healthcare costs are expected to spiral out of control.
“The president, I think, finally has realized that he needs to try to work with Congress, not against Congress, to try to address some of these problems,” Rep. Tom Cotton, a Republican congressman from Arkansas, told The Journal.
Cotton is being targeted by the DSCC for endorsing the Ryan plan.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration has not indicated how it will respond to the Ryan plan. The White House has consistently opposed Ryan’s vision, though President Barack Obama has tried to reignite budget talks with the congressman and other moderate Republicans — and might try to reach negotiated agreements, The Journal reports.
Medicare is a federal government-run health program mostly for seniors, while Medicaid is a combined state-federal program for the poor and the disabled.
The programs represent the largest future drivers of the federal deficit, The Journal reports, accounting for as much as $857 billion in federal spending this year — or 24 percent of the budget, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Medicare is primarily financed by payroll taxes, general revenue, premiums and taxes on benefits. Medicaid is paid for by general tax revenue, The Journal reports.
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