Republicans Promoting Health Care Changes in Ryan’s Budget Blueprint
The plan would repeal the federal health reform law and alter Medicare and Medicaid. The GOP plans to present the budget blueprint as bipartisan and the only option for saving Medicare, according to the Post (Helderman/Kane, Washington Post, 3/25).
Budget Proposal Becoming Divisive Issue
The budget proposal quickly is becoming a divisive campaign issue, pitting Republicans' desire for a smaller budget against Democrats' warnings against weakening Medicare (Braun, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 3/25). Democrats have characterized the proposal as changing Medicare into a "voucher" program, in contrast to Republicansâ contention that the plan involves "premium support."
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) argued that the voucher metaphor is appropriate because under the plan beneficiaries would receive a fixed amount, which would âincrease a little bit, but if health care costs go up ... you're going to have to pay out of pocket [for] the rest." He added, âThe idea behind premium support is that you, the beneficiary, are receiving an amount to support the premium you have to pay â¦ so as healthcare costs go up and premiums go up, the premium support goes up proportionally. ... Their proposal is not premium support because it delinks the value of the voucher from the cost of health care."
During a markup of the budget last week, Ryan countered, "A voucher is like going to the mailbox and getting a check in the mail. ... Premium support is: You get a list of guaranteed coverage options that are pre-selected, in this case by Medicare" (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 3/25).
Meanwhile, White House senior adviser David Plouffe appeared on several talk shows on Sunday to counter Ryan's messaging and portray the plan as a privatization of the program (Washington Post, 3/25). Plouffe also said the plan is really the "Romney-Ryan plan," and said it would be "rubber-stamped" if frontrunner Mitt Romney is elected (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 3/25).
Democrats Rally Behind Competing Proposal
Van Hollen this week is expected to release a competing budget proposal, of which House Democrats appear supportive, The Hill's "On the Money" reports.
"I would expect overwhelming support for anything but the Ryan budget," Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) said. "There might be some Democrats out there who want to dismantle Medicare, but I doubt it," Scott said.
Other Budget Proposals
The Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus also are expected to release plans this week. Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) said the CPC budget would strengthen Medicare by expanding on health cost changes in the federal health reform law (Lillis/Wasson, "On the Money," The Hill, 3/25).
The conservative Republican Study Committee on Tuesday also is expected to release a budget proposal, which will include deeper spending cuts than the Ryan plan, National Journal reports (O'Donnell, National Journal, 3/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.