Paul Ryan and Ron Wyden Blow the Medicare Reform Debate Wide Open!

Robert Laszewski

Posted 12/15/11 on Health Policy and Marketplace Review

House Budget Chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) have embraced a Medicare reform plan that in concept borrows heavily from one championed by former New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici and former Clinton budget chief Alice Rivlin.

Specifically, Wyden and Ryan are proposing to alter the earlier Ryan Medicare plan by:

1. Continuing to offer the traditional Medicare plan—Ryan would have eliminated it—in addition to a range of private Medicare plans offered by health insurers.

2. Tying federal Medicare premium support to an amount equal to the second lowest cost Medicare plan—public or private—available to seniors in each market. Ryan would have set a flat premium support amount in year-one and increased that only at the rate of inflation.

3. Instituting a series of consumer protections and medical underwriting rules designed to protect seniors.

4. Instituting an annual cap on what the federal government could pay for Medicare at an amount equal to the increase in the nation’s GDP + 1%—Ryan would have capped annual increases in the federal premium support amount at the increase in the consumer price index.

The Wyden-Ryan would begin in 2022.

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