Paul Ryan Still Talking Up The Idea Of Privatizing Medicare

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., with the GOP leadership, talks about getting past last week’s failure to pass a health care overhaul bill and rebuilding unity in the Republican Conference, at the Capitol,  in Washington, Tuesday, March 28, 2017.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
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House Speaker Paul Ryan hasn’t let go of his cherished idea of privatizing Medicare and in an interview with a local Wisconsin radio station Friday, suggested that a blueprint for overhauling Medicare would advance in the Budget Committee again this year.

“The question is, can we get everyone else to agree” Ryan said on the Vicki McKenna Show. 

“And that’s just an ongoing conversation we’re having.”

Earlier in the interview Ryan said overhauling Social Security and Medicare — two programs President Trump vowed not to touch on the campaign trail — has “long” been his “plan.”

“That’s a discussion we’re having ongoing with the administration,” he said, later adding, “I do really believe we need to do Medicare reform.”

Ryan has released various versions of his so-called “Path to Prosperity” budget blueprint that have included a privatization of Medicare. The general idea he has promoted is turning Medicare into a so-called “premium support” system — i.e. a voucher system — in which seniors would get a set amount of money to shop around for private health care plans. Earlier versions of his proposal would have lead to a phase-out of Medicare altogether. Some experts have argued that even the most recent iteration of his blueprint, which ostensibly leaves some form of traditional Medicare available, would eventually lead to its phase-out as well.

Trump, while running for President, promised time and time again not to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, arguing, “It’s not fair to the people that have been paying in for years and now all of the sudden they want to be cut.” Trump already appears poised to violate his promise to preserve Medicaid with his support of a GOP Obamacare repeal bill that would slash $880 billion in federal funding for the program over 10 years, according to the CBO.

It’s not just Ryan that’s trying to make Medicare privatization happen. Trump’s Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, a former  House member with a reputation as a budget hawk, said last month that it was his “guess is the House will do either that or something similar to that.”

“Let them pass that and let’s talk about it,”Mulvaney said, when asked about Trump’s pledges not to touch Medicare.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.

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