By Alexander Bolton - 03/20/12 07:06 PM EDT
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) told him he does not support House GOP plans to reform Medicare, despite earlier indications to the contrary.
Reid said Wyden assured him that he would not team up with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to propose Medicare reforms that would require the traditional fee-for-service program to compete with premium-support plans that subsidize seniors to buy medical care in an open marketplace.
“I talked to Ron Wyden this morning, of course, and he said ... he doesn’t like the budget Ryan came up with,” Reid said. “We all recognize all that does is make the rich richer and have bigger hits on the middle class, and it ruins Medicare as we know it.”
Reid said he spoke of his concerns about the Ryan budget during a Tuesday morning phone call.
“It was a telephone call I had with him this morning,” he said. “The Ryan budget is unnecessary. It takes away from seniors something that they prize: Medicare as we know it. And it cuts taxes on rich people.”
A senior aide to Wyden said it’s not true that the Oregon Democrat is backing off his support for the Medicare-reform plan he crafted with Ryan. Wyden wrote an op-ed for The Huffington Post, published Monday, defending the joint plan.
The Medicare reforms proposed in the budget Ryan announced Tuesday are slightly different than the plan he put forth earlier with Wyden.
The original Ryan-Wyden measure would create a premium-support plan allowing seniors to purchase private healthcare plans in competition with traditional Medicare.
That plan would increase premium-support subsidies by the rate of gross domestic product growth plus 1 percent. The blueprint Ryan introduced this week would cap the growth of the premium-support plan at the rate of GDP growth plus 0.5 percent.
Wyden told The Hill earlier Tuesday that he prefers a formula at GDP plus 1 percent.
— Erik Wasson and Bernie Becker contributed reporting.