Newt’s hor­ri­ble, very bad, no good week

Modern Healthcare - - Outliers -

As we wait to see if Medi­care re­form will be an es­sen­tial com­po­nent of the debt-ceil­ing talks in Wash­ing­ton, Out­liers is ea­ger to see if the is­sue will also play a large role in next year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tions.

That ques­tion looms af­ter GOP pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Newt Gingrich set off po­lit­i­cal fire­works when he told “Meet the Press” host David Gre­gory that House Bud­get Chair­man Paul Ryan’s re­form plan for the Medi­care pro­gram is “too big a jump” and that he’s against dras­tic change—from ei­ther side of the po­lit­i­cal aisle.

In the May 15 in­ter­view, Gre­gory asked the for­mer House speaker if Repub­li­cans “ought to buck the pub­lic op­po­si­tion and re­ally move for­ward to com­pletely change Medi­care” by im­ple­ment­ing the pre­mi­um­sup­port model that House Repub­li­cans have pro­posed. “I don’t think right-wing so­cial en­gi­neer­ing is any more de­sir­able than left-wing so­cial en­gi­neer­ing,” Gingrich re­sponded.

The com­ments sparked heated re­ac­tions from con­ser­va­tives. Ryan re­sponded on a ra­dio show by say­ing, “With al­lies like that, who needs the left?” Two days later, Gingrich phoned Ryan to apol­o­gize and the Wis­con­sin Repub­li­can ac­cepted, ac­cord­ing to an e-mail from a spokesman in Ryan’s of­fice. Gingrich also ap­peared on Fox News Tues­day with Greta van Sus­teren, where he said he made two mis­takes. First, he said he should have dis­missed what he called a “hy­po­thet­i­cal baloney ques­tion” from Gre­gory be­cause Repub­li­cans don’t con­trol the Se­nate or the White House. He said the sec­ond mis­take re­lated to some of the words he used.

“But I was try­ing to say some­thing that’s re­ally im­por­tant,” he added. “We are at the be­gin­ning of a process of solv­ing the en­ti­tle­ment prob­lems of the United States. These are enor­mous chal­lenges.”

Af­ter last week, the phrase “enor­mous chal­lenges” not only de­scribes dis­cus­sions sur­round­ing Medi­care re­form—it also de­scribes what lies ahead for Gingrich on the cam­paign trail.

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