Waxman: Back Off Medicare Means Testing

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Underscoring the fact that there’s significant opposition to means-testing Medicare in the Democratic Party, Rep. Henry Waxman’s office blasted out a statement this afternoon pushing back on House Speaker John Boehner’s strong hint that this should be part of the debt limit negotiations.

“Under existing law, well-off seniors are already going to be paying more for their Medicare premiums,” says Waxman, a California Democrat.

Further changes to Medicare at the expense of the wealthier or middle class seniors may push them to leave the program and end up with Medicare costing more because it would still have the sickest and poorest people left. In other words, this idea may undermine Medicare and cost beneficiaries more at the same time.Medicare is a social insurance program where you get back for paying in, whether you are middle class, poor, or rich. If Mr. Boehner wants to have the wealthy contribute more to deficit reduction, he should look to the tax code.

Obviously the degree of Democratic opposition to means-testing plan will depend on the details. But there’s clearly bipartisan support for some version of it.

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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