Last night, House Budget Committee Paul Ryan, R-Wis., announced a bi-partisan breakthrough on Medicare reform that will significantly undercut President Obama's attempts to demagogue the issue in next year's presidential election.
In April of this year, Obama said, "I will not allow Medicare to become a voucher program that leaves seniors at the mercy of the insurance industry."
The plan Ryan agreed to with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., does just that. Ryan and Wyden write in today's Wall Street Journal:
Under our plan, Americans currently over the age of 55 would see no changes to the Medicare system. For future retirees, starting in 2022, our plan would introduce a "premium support" system that would empower Medicare beneficiaries to choose either a traditional Medicare plan or a Medicare-approved private plan. Unlike Medicare Advantage, these private plans would compete head-to-head with traditional, fee-for-service Medicare on a federally regulated Medicare exchange.
Not only did Obama say he would never allow a premium support program in Medicare, he even suggested the very idea was un-American. In that same April speech, Obama said of the Ryan plan:
If a Republican candidate were to embrace the Ryan-Wyden plan, or even better, recruit Ryan as a running mate, they could then say, "We have a bipartisan plan to reform Medicare and cut our deficit. Obama does not. All he's delivered is a hyper-partisan health care bill, parts of which have already failed, that has never been popular with the American people, and may be found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Which path forward sounds better to you?"
It's a plan that aims to reduce our deficits by $4 trillion over the next ten years. And one that addresses the challenges of Medicare and Medicaid in the years after that. These are both worthy goals. But the way this plan achieves those goals would lead to a fundamentally different America then the one we've known. It would be fundamentally different than what we've known throughout our history.