Obama Medicare chief says Ryan plan would shift costs to seniors

Proposed GOP reforms to Medicare would "shift the cost of healthcare to seniors and Americans with disabilities," the Obama administration argued Friday.

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Medicare chief Don Berwick said healthcare expenses would rise dramatically for seniors under the plan written by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and approved by the House. 

"One way to address this problem is to follow the plan articulated by Republicans in Congress: Force the average senior to pay $6,400 more for their insurance, eliminate guaranteed Medicare benefits and limit choices when it comes to doctors and hospitals," Berwick wrote. "That approach would end Medicare as we know it and do nothing to bring down healthcare costs."

ADVERTISEMENT
House Republicans before the spring recess approved a 2012 budget blueprint from Ryan that includes a proposal to replace Medicare with subsidies for private coverage. Democrats, armed with estimates from the Congressional Budget Office that suggest seniors over time would end up paying considerably more for their care under the Ryan proposal, have been hammering away at the proposal for the past several weeks.

"This is the wrong way," Berwick wrote. "The right way is to help bring costs down by making care better and improving our healthcare system."

Berwick goes on to enumerate provisions of the healthcare reform law that he says are achieving such improvements, such as public-private partnerships aimed at improving patient care.

Republicans say Medicare is unsustainable and that they're trying to save it by sharply reducing its cost to the federal government.