Bipartisan Ryan-Wyden plan gets cool reception
As congressional leaders wrangled over a host of spending issues last week, two federal lawmakers managed to release a bipartisan proposal to restructure the Medicare program.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-wis.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-ore.) together introduced a plan for the federal healthcare program that starting in 2022 would offer America’s seniors a choice among Medicare-approved private plans and the traditional Medicare plan. Any private plan that participates in the program would have to provide at least as comprehensive a benefit as traditional feefor-service Medicare, and Americans who are at or above age 55 today would not see changes in their benefit structure, according to a summary of the proposal. Instead, they would have the option of switching to a private plan after the Medicare exchange is established. That marketplace is intended to supplant the Medicare Advantage program.
The “premium support” model allows private plans to compete with traditional Medicare based on their ability to provide coverage at an affordable cost. In this new structure, premium-support levels will be determined by the cost of the secondlowest-cost plan, as well as traditional Medicare.
The Obama administration was quick to criticize the proposal, comparing it with Ryan’s plan in April to privatize Medicare.
Wyden, left, and Ryan propose letting seniors choose between private plans and traditional Medicare.