House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Sunday took a swipe at the Obama administration's plans for the Independent Payment Advisory Board as he defended his party's proposed premium-support model as a way to reform Medicare.
Ryan on GOP's Medicare-reform plan: 'We're saving this program'
Appearing via satellite on NBC's “Meet the Press” one week to the day after former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) criticized the GOP's plans for Medicare on that same program, Ryan said Gingrich's comment was “deeply inaccurate” and a “gross mischaracterization of the House Republican plan.” Ryan added that Gingrich has since acknowledged this and retracted his comments.
“If I can put it in a nutshell, we're saying: Don't affect current seniors,” Ryan told host David Gregory of his party's Medicare-reform plan. “Give future seniors the ability to deny business to inefficient providers. As a contrary to that, the president's plan is to give the government the power to deny care to seniors by empowering a panel of 15 unelected bureaucrats to put price controls and rationing in place for current seniors,” he continued. “So I would argue that the opposite is true: We're being sensible, we're being rationale; we're saving this program. And you cannot deal with this debt crisis, David, unless you're serious about entitlement reform. And unfortunately, I think we're going to have ‘Mediscare' all over again, and that's unfortunate for the country.”
Gregory pressed him on the issue, saying Gingrich's comments reflect what he has heard privately from Republicans—namely, that they're “scared to death” about the politics of what Ryan is proposing, and that he is handing over a huge issue to the Democrats.
“Of course people are scared of entitlement reform,” Ryan said. “Because every time you put entitlement reform out there, the other party uses it as a political weapon against you,” he said, adding that both parties have done this.
“If we don't get serious about these issues, if we don't get serious about the drivers of our debt, we're going to have a debt crisis,” Ryan said. “And the irony of this is all: If we don't fix these programs, people who rely on these benefits are going to get cut the first. They're going to be hurt the worst under a debt crisis. We're saying if we fix this now, we can keep the current promise to current seniors and people 10 years away from retiring. If we allow politics to get the best of us, if we allow demagoguery to sink in, and do nothing, then we will have a debt crisis and current seniors will get hurt.”
Ryan said his party would be willing to negotiate on his Medicare plan, but also emphasized that House Republicans have been the only ones to address the issue. “We have nothing—nothing from the president or from the Senate Democrats that come anywhere close to averting a debt crisis and fixing our problem.”
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), ranking member on Ryan's committee and a representative on the bipartisan deficit-reduction commission led by Vice President Joe Biden, said later on the show that the president has put a plan on the table, and that last year's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act included some Medicare reforms. He also chided Republicans for not including a revenue element in their budget plan.
“But here's where the Republicans have not come to the table: You didn't hear one word about how we need to deal with the revenue side of the equation,” Van Hollen said. “Every bipartisan commission that has looked at our deficit and debt problem has said you can't do it with a one-sided, lopsided approach, which is what the Republican plan is," he added. "You need a revenue component. These guys won't even agree to get rid of the subsidies for the big oil companies. ”
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