Response to bipartisan Medicare overhaul falls along party lines

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A Medicare reform proposal touted as a “premium support” plan has drawn criticism from the White House, other Democrats and Medicare advocates.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) unveiled their plan Thursday morning at an event sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center. Under the plan, Medicare beneficiaries would be given a lump sum with which to purchase private health insurance or choose a traditional fee-for-service plan, Kaiser Health reported. The plan calls for Congress to create exchanges where private plans would compete with traditional Medicare programs. No one over age 55 would see changes to the plan, which would kick off in 2022, Ryan and Wyden wrote in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal Thursday.

The Ryan-Wyden plan would cap Medicare growth — spending would not be allowed to increase more than the growth of the economy, plus one percentage point, according to the New York Times. The plan would cut payments to providers and suppliers, and higher-income seniors would pay higher premiums.

Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker said that the overhaul amounts to a voucher program “designed to make people with Medicare spend more for their healthcare so that the federal government spends less,” in a statement.

Congressional Republicans, such as House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), say it's “a step in the right direction,” The Hill reported.