The Agenda

Sam Baker Buries the Lede on Ryan-Wyden

In his post on Ryan-Wyden, Sam Baker of The Hill starts rather oddly:

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is moving away from his controversial plan to end traditional Medicare, putting forward a new proposal with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) that would keep the federally funded program in place.

The plan, which Ryan and Wyden plan to unveil Thursday morning, would give Medicare beneficiaries a choice between today’s Medicare and private health plans.

This is really weird for a few reasons:

(1) Ryan has always been open to modifying his proposal, and he has explicitly had kind words for the Rivlin-Domenici proposal.

(2) Isn’t the more significant development that a prominent Democrat is moving towards Ryan’s controversial approach?

(3) And how exactly are we defining “keeping the federally funded program in place”? Ryan’s defined contribution vision for Medicare involved a federally funded program designed to pay for medical insurance for seniors. The federally funded program that now exists is not based on a premium support model that puts a public FFS plan and private plans on an even footing. 

Later on, Baker writes the following:

Although the change is a significant departure from Ryan’s earlier proposal, Wyden’s involvement could also muddy Democrats’ campaign message of preserving Medicare against the threat of privatization.

This seems like the more newsworthy aspect of the proposal, and one hopes that Wyden will effectively counter this notion. Premium support does not represent a threat to the vision of a Medicare program that offers high-quality care to seniors at a price taxpayers can afford. 


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