GOP House members take heat over proposed Medicare reforms

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Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)

Republican House members convened a private conference call Tuesday to talk about ways to reshape the Medicare reform discussion, Congressional aides told Reuters.

The strategy session was in response to constituent anger concerning the Medicare reforms in Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) 2012 budget proposal. Ryan's budget would change Medicare by giving beneficiaries a federal subsidy that would allow them to purchase their coverage from a list of private insurance carriers. This change would affect only beneficiaries who are now 55 or younger.

While on a two-week recess, House members have been hosting town hall meetings on the budget, drawing heat from some constituents. Rep. Ryan was booed at one appearance, while Rep. Dan Webster (R-FL) faced a crowd where attendees started shouting at each other. Nursing home groups have been vocal about opposing the GOP budget plan, since Medicare and Medicaid combined provide an overwhelming majority of payments to U.S. nursing homes.

Ryan reportedly told fellow House members to emphasize that the plan “strengthens Medicare, protects today's seniors and (protects) Medicare for future generations," Reuters reported. Other GOP lawmakers pointed out that constituents are more understanding about the cuts when they are put in the context of the national debt.