Skip to comments.Tom Coburn, Joe Lieberman Unveil Plan to Save Medicare
Posted on 06/28/2011 4:45:39 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
Last month, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I., Conn.) voted against the House Republican budget authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), which includes significant reforms to Medicare. After doing so, the former Democrat says, he could not in good conscience do nothing, as that would signal an endorsement of the status quo, which when it comes to Medicare, as well as the national debt, is simply unsustainable. Indeed, the program’s own trustees admit as much.
So Lieberman took to the pages of the Washington Post to offer his own plan to preserve Medicare for future generations. Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) took notice, contacted Lieberman, and offered to work on a bipartisan proposal to present to Congress. The pair unveiled their plan Tuesday at a press conference on Capitol Hill. “We can’t save Medicare as we know it,” said Lieberman. “We can only save Medicare if we change it.”
The senators’ plan would save an estimated $600 billion over ten years and extend Medicare’s solvencey by “at least 30 years” by instituting a number of cost-saving structural reforms. These include:
The plan would also impose a cap on seniors’ out-of-pocket costs depending on their income, which would limit the amount individuals seniors must pay for health care on an annual basis. The cap would be set at $7,500 for individuals making $85,000 or less per year (the lowest bracket), and $22,500 for those making $160,000 or more per year (the highest bracket).
The key to reining in costs, Coburn argued, was to introduce “a little bit of market force” into the health-care sector in a way that gives patients a greater awareness regarding the cost of care. “It just doesn’t work because everybody thinks somebody else is paying for their health care,” he said. “That’s not just in Medicare, that’s everywhere.”
All told, the senators said their plan would reduce Medicare’s massive 75-year unfunded liabilities by $10 trillion and significantly lessen the program’s strain on the federal budget. Neither expected the plan to very popular among their colleagues. “Nobody’s going to like this plan,” Coburn said. “We understand that.”
“We know that each part of our proposal will make some group of people unhappy and will provide easy targets for attack from those who understandably want to preserve the status quo,” added Lieberman. “But the status quo only leads to the collapse of Medicare and fiscal disaster for our country. We’re way past the point where we can save Medicare and cut the debt while keeping all of the interest groups and all of our constituents happy.”
It wasn’t long before their colleagues proved them right, at least on the Democratic side.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) reiterated his opposition to Lieberman’s original plan, calling it a “bad idea.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) called it “unacceptable.”
“Any changes to Medicare must strengthen the Medicare system and improve the health of our seniors,” Pelosi said in a statement. “It is unfair to ask seniors to get less in benefits and wait longer to get onto Medicare — all while Republicans back tax breaks for Big Oil and corporations that ship American jobs overseas.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) stopped short of endorsing the plan, but applauded the senators’ effort, saying it “underscores the necessity” of reforming entitlement programs. “I don’t see how we can have a credible large, or frankly even small package to address [the deficit] and leave entitlements sitting on the sidelines,” he told reporters.
Still, Coburn and Lieberman expressed hope that their plan could serve as a “bipartisan beachhead” in the ongoing debt-ceiling negotiations. Lieberman said, “At a minimum, maybe we have offered some ideas here” for President Obama and congressional leaders to consider as they work to reach a deal.
Coburn insisted that any serious deal must do something to rein in Medicare costs. “Medicare has to be fixed,” he said. “You can live in la-la land and say, no, it’s going to stay the same — it isn’t going to stay the same. Even if the Congress doesn’t do anything, it isn’t going to stay the same. We’re not going to be able to borrow enough money to afford it.”
And while there are elements of the plan he personally disagrees with, Coburn said the situation was too urgent to get hung up on partisan objections. “The option is not to do nothing, the option is how do we find a way forward that preserves Medicare in a way that we can get it through Congress that also preserves the country,” he said. “We need to shake the political shackles and start doing what’s best for the country, not what’s best for any party.”
Lieberman concurred, calling Medicare a “sick” program in dire need of reform. The longer Congress waits to act, the more painful the changes that will be required. “The sooner you take the strong medicine, the sooner you’ll get healthy again,” he said.
Go here for more details about the plan.
I think it is a good start. Problem is Pelosi. The minute that bile spilled from her lips, the plan was dead.
How does this compare with Paul Ryan’s plan? If it is realistic and supportable, it need not be DOA.
I wouldn’t believe Joe Lieberman if he said the sun rose in the east. For all the talk about him being moderate, he still votes Rat every time.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) won't allow it to see the light of day and if it does, Obama will veto it...After all how can seniors be denied the right to come before Obamacare's death panels...Democrats need Medicare to go away inorder to bring about single payer health care.
No tax increases. How can any self-respecting marx-o-crat sign on to it?
Any changes to Medicare must strengthen the Medicare system and improve the health of our seniors, Pelosi said in a statement. It is unfair to ask seniors to get less in benefits and wait longer to get onto Medicare all while Republicans back tax breaks for Big Oil and corporations that ship American jobs overseas.
Pelosi’s vile talking point BS that is repeated AD NAEUSEUM is beyond vomit-inducing.
I hope the GOP talkin heads are slamming her BS down hard. Blathering on about Big Oil is populist garbage that doesnt create a single job, but in fact drives jobs overseas.
So what if it’s DOA.....This will be another election year selling point against the DEMONcrats. Again another Republican has put forth a plan. Agaon the DEMONcrats sh*t all over it and kill it. Again the DEMONcrats have no plan of their own.
Some Republicans are at least trying. No DEMONcrats are trying at all.
Yep, DOA... nothing will be done about any of the mess we are in until there is no money left.
I paid three times more in medicare tax last year than I did in health insurance premiums and I figure I’ll never see a penny of it. I’m tired of being fed on supporting every damn leach that happens to swim across the Rio Grande or be hatched out in some ghetto.
I was tuned to the news conference with Coburn and Lieberman.
Coburn said “next July”, the worlds economies will be in a “deathroll” Paraphrased herein but he said next July and he said “deathroll”.
He urged lawmakers to get the affairs of state in order quick because we have very little time left with freedom of choice.
After July next, our choices will be diminished.