Barney Frank touts tort reform, higher co-pays as ways to trim budget

Frank said it was important not to restrict the conversation just to Medicare.

"The first thing I want to say is I do not want there to be a Medicare-only solution, because I think you then have access problems for people as to whether they can get Medicare or not," he said. "Then we look at the whole service delivery issue."

Frank also recommended increasing co-pays along with income, and pitched the controversial idea of allowing patients to deny life-sustaining care.

"I think it's time for us to say that if people at the end of their lives want to simply say, 'OK, this is it; this is not a meaningful existence' — I'm not talking about assisted suicide, I'm talking about the Schiavo case sort of situation where you don't force care on people who don't want it and whose guardians don't want them to have it," Frank said. "You know, we spend an awful lot of Medicaid on the end of life. And this is not death panels; this is not the government telling you you don't get any more. This is the government not telling you you have to get this medical care whether you want it or not."