One claim touted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) in debuting his plan to replace Medicare with a voucher system based on an exchange is that the same setup is already in use by members of Congress themselves, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.
“Starting in 2022, new Medicare beneficiaries will be enrolled in the same kind of health-care program that members of Congress enjoy,” Ryan wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed debuting his plan. “Future Medicare recipients will be able to choose a plan that works best for them from a list of guaranteed coverage options.”
Left unmentioned — seniors will pay a far greater share of the cost for their plans than members of Congress do.
In a letter to his colleagues, Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) pointed to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office of Ryan’s plan predicting that seniors would pay an average of 68% of their health care costs by 2030. According to Tonko, he and his colleagues are only expected to pay 28% of their health care costs thanks to the more generous cost-sharing formula employed by the FEHBP. Seniors’ medical costs are much higher than the broader population, making the percentage difference even more striking.
“When the plan takes effect in 2022, the average senior would receive $8,000 to buy insurance,” Tonko wrote. “Plans for Members of Congress cost $9,012 in 2010. What kind of health care plan will $8,000 buy in 2022 for our sickest and oldest seniors, when $9,000 can’t buy a plan for a Member of Congress today?”