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Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.)

Camp wants to hear Dems' Medicare proposal

By Jessica Zigmond
Posted: May 5, 2011 - 3:00 pm ET

If Democrats do not like a premium-support model for Medicare, then they need to “come to the table with something else,” said the Republican leader of the House panel responsible for making tax law.

“You and most of America know how bold the Republicans are willing to be when it comes tackling the nation's debt, which is primarily driven by ever-increasing healthcare costs,” Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said Thursday at the National Press Club in Washington. “What we don't know yet this year is: Will the president and the Senate join us in a real effort to tackle entitlement spending, specifically Medicare?”

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Camp emphasized that that the premium-support model is not a new concept, and is one that was introduced by a Republican and a Democrat. He also stressed that Medicare is unsustainable and will collapse if nothing is done to improve it.

"I’m really not interested in talking about whether the House is going to pass a bill that the Senate shows no interest in," Camp said. "I’m not interested in laying down more markers; what I’m interested in are solutions—the solutions the American people expect and deserve."

Regarding the debt debate, Camp said the debt limit should be coupled with savings, including from programs such as Medicare. And if Democrats don't like what Republicans have proposed, he said, they should suggest something that will ensure Medicare will serve Americans for generations to come.

“Maybe it's supporting the elimination of first-dollar coverage in Medigap,” he said. “Or unifying doctors' and hospitals' services under one benefit, just like nonelderly Americans receive in their health coverage,” he said, adding that those proposals came from the president's bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, of which he was a member.

Susan Dentzer, editor-in-chief of Health Affairs—which hosted the event featuring Camp—asked if the Republican leader supported having a premium-support model while also leaving traditional Medicare program as an option.

“I am willing to talk about any serious proposal at this point,” Camp said, adding that he isn't ruling anything out.

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