Between now and November, Republicans should frame their Medicare message first by telling voters the country has a serious problem with the decades-old healthcare program, a former Congressional Budget Office director said on the last day of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who led the CBO during the George W. Bush administration from 2003 to 2005, joined fellow panelists Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) and Republican Utah Gov. Gary Herbert on Thursday at a healthcare policy discussion sponsored by Premier and hosted by the news organization Politico. Susan DeVore, president and CEO of Premier, said the healthcare alliance will host a similar discussion next week during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
“First and foremost, you have to explain to the American people that we have a problem,” Holtz-Eakin said in a response to a question about what the GOP must do so the party isn't “Mediscared” throughout the remainder of the campaign. “You can't offer a solution until there is a problem that is clearly identified. And this is an enormous problem. Right now, there is a gap between premiums and payroll taxes coming in and spending going out in Medicare that is $300 billion a year,” he said, adding that 10,000 seniors are added to the program each day. Meanwhile, Medicare has been responsible for one-fourth of federal debt outstanding since 2000 and is the reason why the country's credit rating has been downgraded, he said.
After presenting the problem, the GOP can then focus on overhauling Medicare, Holtz-Eakin said.