Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) says that Medicare “needs to be reformed,” but the junior senator from Florida – a state with a large elderly population– wouldn’t say outright he embraced Paul Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare.
“I think it needs to be reformed,” Rubio told TPM Tuesday. “I’d like to see specific proposals.”
When asked if he or other Republican senators would be open to moving forward with a plan like Paul Ryan’s—which is pretty specific and would give the elderly a set amount of money to purchase health care on a private exchange—Rubio demurred.
“I don’t know. I mean I haven’t asked,” Rubio said. “I think there is an acknowledgement that we need to save Medicare. How we do it, is something that there hasn’t been much of a discussion about.”
Pushed further on whether he supports privatization or what Ryan calls “premium support,” Rubio said it could be an option, but that he didn’t want to see any changes to elderly people currently enrolled in the system.
“I support people of having the option of doing it, but I am open to doing it different ways of doing it. The important thing is to save Medicare. Anything that doesn’t change benefits for current beneficiaries,” Rubio said.
In 2014, Rubio delivered a speech at the National Press Club where he detailed his own plan to change Medicare. At the time, he said he supported something similar to Ryan’s plan.
“I propose we transition to a premium support system, which would give seniors a generous but fixed amount of money with which to purchase health insurance from either Medicare or a private provider. The choice would be theirs to make,” Rubio said in the speech. “My friend Paul Ryan is a leader when it comes to Medicare reform. I supported a couple key proposals to fix the program that were detailed in his Roadmap during my campaign in 2010.”
In the Senate, there has been little interest in taking up sweeping changes to Medicare as Republicans grapple with how to repeal and replace Obamacare.