Dems, allies line up against Ryan Medicare plan

Democrats and their allies on healthcare wasted no time Tuesday criticizing House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) Medicare plan.

The plan, which would partially privatize Medicare, is by now a familiar punching bag for Democrats. But they've made clear that they still believe it will be a potent force in the 2014 midterms.

Democratic officials, their campaign committees and outside lobbying groups including AARP all hammered Ryan's plan shortly after he reintroduced it Tuesday morning.

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“The Republican budget is nothing more than more of the same … It still undermines the health and economic security of the elderly and disabled," House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement. "It still ends the Medicare guarantee and shifts costs to seniors."

Ryan's plan would give seniors a choice between the traditional single-payer Medicare system or a private plan. The federal government would provide a subsidy equal to the cost of the second-cheapest option.

Democrats say the subsidy probably wouldn't be enough to cover the cost of traditional Medicare, pushing healthier seniors into private plans and driving up costs for the government-run plan.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sought to tie the Medicare plan to Republicans who might run for Senate seats in 2014. The DSCC targeted three possible GOP candidates for Georgia's open seat — Reps. Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston.

"Georgians deserve to know that under Broun, Gingrey, and Kingston’s anti-Medicare plan, seniors would pay more for health care and millions would be forced onto a voucher program when they retire," the DSCC said in a release.

Similar statements targeted possible contenders in Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Michigan and West Virginia, as well as incumbent Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas).

Ryan did not substantively change his Medicare proposal from previous versions, which passed the House with near-unanimous Republican support despite attack ads from Democrats and opposition from groups like AARP.

“Chairman Paul Ryan's proposed budget fails to address the high costs of health care and instead shifts costs onto seniors and future retirees," AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeMond said in a statement. "Removing the Medicare guarantee of affordable health coverage seniors have contributed to through a lifetime of hard work is not the answer."