Menendez says Dems won't back Medicaid cuts

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The House GOP budget would save more than $700 billion in Medicaid spending over 10 years— more immediate savings than the Medicare proposal would produce, since those changes wouldn’t take place until after the next decade has passed.

The proposal would convert Medicare into a system of vouchers for private insurance.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) challenged President Obama on Wednesday over his criticism of the Medicare plan, which Democrats have said would “end Medicare as we know it.” But Menendez stuck with that line, and said it would apply to any variation on Ryan’s “premium support” model.

Past proposals — including some with support from Democrats — have also called for converting Medicare into vouchers or subsidies for private coverage. But Ryan’s goes further with its cap on the value of those subsidies. It also does not include traditional, government-run Medicare as an option for people who don’t want private coverage.

Menendez said tweaks in those areas wouldn’t change the fundamentals of Ryan’s plan and wouldn’t be enough to win him over.

“I don’t see ending Medicare as we know it as a vehicle that I would support,” he said.

Asked about smaller, more incremental changes to find savings in Medicare, Menendez said he would have to see specifics but that cuts similar to those in the healthcare reform law — which cut Medicare Advantage and contains a slew of cost-control efforts — might be acceptable.