Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) said last week he expects to introduce his Medicare restructuring plan as a congressional bill when the Senate Finance Committee holds a series of hearings on Medicare at the end of April.
Breaux, who was chairman of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare, has proposed changing Medicare from a payer of healthcare bills to a program that pays most, but not all, of seniors' premiums for private health insurance coverage.
Earlier this month, the 17-member commission failed to get the 11-vote majority necessary to formally recommend the premium-support model to Congress and President Clinton.
In an indication that Breaux's proposal won't go away soon, the full Senate, by a 56-43 vote, last week added a nonbinding measure to its budget blueprint for federal fiscal 2000, calling on the Senate to debate the Breaux plan (See story above).
Meanwhile, House Republicans are returning to their districts for a two-week break beginning this week, armed with "talking points" on the Breaux plan distributed by the GOP leadership.
A leadership source said the distribution of the talking points was not part of a GOP effort to promote the premium-support plan. Instead, the source said, members wanted to be able to answer any questions they might get from constituents regarding the proposal.