Senate Finance Chair Eyes Medicare Changes But Is Vague On Specifics

Congressional Quarterly

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said that Republicans will need to make changes to Medicare and other entitlements in order to ensure Donald Trump's administration is fiscally responsible.

In an interview with reporters Thursday, Hatch said that making changes to Medicare was essential.

"I think we're going to have to do that. We're going to have to make it better," Hatch said. "So it will take care of people because the current system is not working."

When asked if entitlement reforms were going to be necessary to accomplish the Trump agenda, Hatch said, "I think that is probably the understatement."

Hatch, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, made his comments after House Budget Chairman Tom Price told reporters earlier Thursday that the new GOP Congress likely wouldn't take up Medicare until the middle of 2017, in a second budget reconciliation as part of the 2018 budget process. Hatch was far more vague about timing he wanted to see on Medicare.

"I don't think it's a fast type of a thing, but I would like it to be," Hatch said.

Hatch said he wanted to see a more bipartisan approach and he remained vague about what blueprints he's seen that he'd want to execute.

"I've gone through a wide variety of things and there are some ideas that I think are very good," he said.

When asked if he could support House Speaker Paul Ryan's long-standing proposal for Medicare "premium support" – which is another way of saying Medicare privatization – Hatch seemed to dodge.

"For some people, you'd have to have premium support. There's no quick answer to any of these things. I'm open to good ideas," Hatch said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lauren Fox is a reporter at Talking Points Memo.
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