Bipartisan support for Ryan’s Medicare solution

By Tom Quiner

There is bi-partisan recognition that Medicare is unsustainable in its present form.

Despite political rhetoric to the contrary, many of Congressman Paul Ryan’s solutions to the Medicare mess have been embraced by both sides of the aisle.

Congressman Ryan co-crafted a Medicare solution with liberal Democratic Congressman U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon. Here is an overview of their fix:

1. No one over the age of 55 is affected. The current system remains in effect.

2. Those who are under age 55 who wish to remain in the current system may do so.

3. Those seeking better coverage with more flexibility would receive premium support on policies individuals could purchase on the private market. Premium support would be offered for the plan in the region with the second lowest bid. This plan must provide coverage which is at least the equivalent of a federally guaranteed minimum-coverage package.

The concept of premium support has been endorsed at various times by a who’s who of Democrats, including Bill Clinton in his National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare in ’97 and ’98. Two Democrats on the Commission endorsed the approach, including former Senators Robert Kerrey of Nebraska and John Breaux of Louisiana.

Myriad Democratic senators have embraced the idea of premium support in the Medicare Part D prescription drug bill, including Max Baucus, John Breaux, Tom Carper, Kent Conrad, Tom Dorgan, Dianne Feinstein, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, Zell Miller, Ben Nelson, and Ron Wyden.

The premium support aspect of Medicare Part D has come in at about half at what legislators estimated. Contrast this success with Medicare’s consistent and woeful cost overruns.

So the idea of premium support has worked.

So the idea of premium support has enjoyed bi-partisan support.

So when you hear Ryan’s Medicare solution bashed in the weeks and months ahead, you will know his detractors are simply being dishonest.