Republicans: Let’s Privatize Medicare!

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One of the fun little tidbits in the Republican Budget roll out today is here:

The substitute gradually converts the current Medicare program into one in which Medicare beneficiaries choose the most affordable coverage that best suits their individual needs. For individuals 55 or older, Medicare will not be changed (other than income-relating the prescription drug benefit): the budget preserves the existing program for these beneficiaries. To make the program sustainable and dependable, those 54 and younger will enroll in a new Medicare Program with health coverage similar to what is now available to Members of Congress and Federal employees.

This is an idea that’s been kicking around in conservative circles for some time, and it’s an expensive one. Well, it’s expensive unless you’re an insurance company, in which case it’s extremely lucrative. The goal is to phase out Medicare over time by providing new seniors with the health insurance options available under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. The FEHBP provides relatively high quality care, and most working-aged people would probably prefer its options over the ones provided by their employers. But Medicare provides similar quality of care while containing the costs of administration, and those costs are much higher at private insurance companies.

There’s more like this in the GOP’s budget report. And, if you’re interested in legislative language for some reason, the resolution itself is here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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