Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Republicans' big plan for 2017: Privatizing Medicare

Medicare just turned 50, which is 50 years too long for the second-most popular public program in history to have survived as far as Republicans are concerned. So they're going to take another stab at ending it and they're doing it in an election year, bless their little, blackened hearts.
For years, Republicans have openly pined for pushing Medicare further into the private sector. But they have been restrained by the practical realities of divided government and the political risks of a plan that Democrats have said would turn the popular insurance program into a voucher system.

Conservatives on Capitol Hill, however, have not surrendered the dream and now are planning to undertake the dirty work to make it a legislative reality. House Republicans will start working next year on drafting a Medicare "premium-support" bill, according to Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady. […]

Brady said his panel wants to start the laborious work of creating actual legislative text, likely in preparation for 2017 under a new Congress and president at the earliest. This year's House budget endorsed the policy, as it has for several years under Republican control. […]

Asked about any political risk in a presidential election year, Brady emphasized that the bill wouldn't necessarily move in 2016, just that the "hard work" of putting together legislative language would begin.

Because Democrats aren't smart enough to campaign on the fact that this is what you plan to do in 2017 if Republicans win Congress and the White House? Maybe they'll just miss this whole announcement and not realize what Republicans are up to. But don't count on it. And maybe the American people won't find out about it (so maybe you shouldn't be going around doing interviews about it, Mr. Brady).

He'd better hope that's the case because according to the most recent polling on it, done last month by the Kaiser Family Foundation just 26 percent of voters support the idea of vouchers. It's universally hated. Only 31 percent of Republicans support it! And guess who votes? People who love their Medicare the way it is.

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