Republican senators unveil new premium support alternative for Medicare

"Tom and I believe that we had a moral obligation to save Medicare for our parents and for our children," Burr said on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "And to provide seniors choice in the system so they can have a cheaper health care system, less expensive I might say, but with a better health outcome. Now, some say we can't do it, we're willing to float it out there and try it."

Critics say that rather than giving seniors a choice, the private option would end up killing traditional Medicare as healthier people gravitated to cheaper private plans leaving Medicare with the sickest, most expensive patients.

The senators' bill would also gradually increase the age of Medicare eligibility to 67 by 2027 and would eliminate the healthcare reform law's Independent Payment Advisory Board, which is tasked with recommending payment cuts to providers if Medicare costs grow too fast.

To make their plan more palatable, Coburn and Burr included a number of provisions that have broad bipartisan support, including:

• Limiting seniors' maximum out-of-pocket medical expenses, with wealthier seniors paying more;

• Offering targeted care coordination for seniors in traditional Medicare; and

• Restricting so-called Medigap coverage (Medigap plans would be prohibited from covering the first $500 of a senior's cost-sharing and could only cover 50 percent of the next $5,000 of Medicare cost-sharing).