Window to Washington

An inside-the-beltway look at the legislative and regulatory process.

Democrats vow to fight Medicare revamp plan

By Jessica Zigmond
1:15 pm, Mar. 19
Tags: Policy

A day before House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is scheduled to release a budget blueprint that's once again expected to include considerable changes to Medicare, his Democrat counterparts in the lower chamber emphasized they won't support any plan that leads to the end of the Medicare guarantee.

Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), chairman of the House Democrat Caucus, hosted a conference call Monday with fellow members Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) to tout the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which will celebrate its second anniversary later this week. Becerra noted that the law—which Republicans have referred to as a “job killer”—has produced about 488,000 jobs since it was passed in 2010. Meanwhile, Schakowsky promised that House Democrats and public interest groups are gearing up for a “primary, organizing effort” to explain the benefits of the law in the coming months.

Schakowsky—who with Matsui co-chairs the House Democratic Seniors Task Force—also commented on the Wyden-Ryan plan, which will likely be a part of Ryan's budget plan this week. Introduced in December, the plan from Ryan and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) presents a model that would give seniors the option of choosing between either the traditional Medicare program or a private health plan. Schakowsky told reporters that using a voucher system could create adverse selection, in which sicker people would be part of the Medicare program and private companies who choose healthier ones.

“Seniors don't want Medicare itself to be diminished in some way, to become too expensive and therefore ruined,” Schakowsky said. “We don't see a difference in principle in the original Ryan budget and the Wyden-Ryan budget—both are equally bad, marginally different, and would end Medicare as we know it.”

Follow Jessica Zigmond on Twitter @MHJZigmond.

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