Ryan dings Pawlenty's Medicare reform idea

A Medicare reform idea that could be included in likely GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty's forthcoming budget proposal has run into opposition from a key House Republican. 

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Thursday dismissed Pawlenty's recent suggestion that Medicare costs could be cut by implementing "payment reforms" that would direct money to doctors and hospitals for better healthcare outcomes.

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The congressman said that the idea hews too closely to the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) proposed in President Obama's healthcare law, which both Pawlenty and Ryan oppose. IPAB is tasked with lowering Medicare costs without affecting the quality of coverage.

"Medicare has yet to do this successfully," Ryan said during an interview with the conservative Weekly Standard. "The president wants his IPAB to do essentially the same thing."

Ryan's comments represent yet another split between the former Minnesota governor and House Republicans as both gear up for an election year in 2012. 

House GOP leaders were annoyed with Pawlenty for opposing the spending compromise they brokered with President Obama and Senate Democrats.

Ryan, who some believe could mount a dark-horse run for president, is not afraid to go after potential GOP presidential candidates: He took a shot at the healthcare plan Mitt Romney implemented as governor of Massachusetts. 

Ryan has said he is not interested in running for president in 2012.

Pawlenty initially praised Ryan's 2012 budget proposal after he released it in early April, but said last week that he would release his own budget that will depart from Ryan's plans to reform Social Security and Medicare. 

Ryan's budget would transform Medicare benefits into so-called "premium support" for future seniors that would subsidize private healthcare coverage. Democrats have attacked the plan as a voucher system that would lead to the privatization of the popular, yet fiscally troubled program.

The Wisconsin Republican said that Pawlenty's idea, which is based off reforms he implemented in Minnesota, would rely too heavily on centralized bureaucracy to be effective.

"It’s very difficult for a centralized bureaucracy to do that ... When they get these targets, like the president is giving them, you know a half a trillion dollars, they just sort of do indiscriminate cutting across the board, lowering reimbursement to providers, causing providers to drop out of the program altogether," he said.

Pawlenty's presidential exploratory committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.