The House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) told the Associated Press that Republicans plans to overhaul Medicare as early as next year.
Brady joins a growing number of voices in the House of Representatives who have signaled interest in changing the program even as Senate Republicans have pushed back such talk.
“Democrat tactics of ‘Mediscare’ have been around a long time. They’ve stopped working,” Brady told The Associated Press in a story published Friday. “Voters have figured out Republicans want to save Medicare for the long term, and they know that those who say everything’s just fine with it aren’t leveling with them.”
Brady, however, remained vague about what exactly he wanted to do. While House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has boldly doubled down on his own proposals for to privatize Medicare or what he calls “premium support,” Brady was less clear about what he wanted to do.
“I envision 2017 as taking steps, small, in preparing for larger steps to save Medicare for the long term,” Brady told the AP.
Past Ryan’s plans over the years have shown a variety of options. The early ones showed Ryan phasing out traditional Medicare over time and moving to a health care market where every elderly person got a set amount of money to buy their health insurance. Health care advocates and Democrats worry that kind of system would force the burden of rising health care costs onto seniors. Ryan’s later plans preserved traditional medicare as an option for people to buy with their vouchers, but experts are unclear if the proper protections would actually protect the integrity of the program. Either option would fundamentally change Medicare as it’s currently structured.
Democrats are already vehemently rejecting anything resembling privatization and have said they plan to make the nomination of Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) to be HHS Secretary a referendum on his attempts to privatize Medicare.
It is still unclear what President-elect Trump thinks about privatization. He campaigned on a platform not to touch seniors’ health care.