Ryan: Medicare overhaul not the focus next year

Ryan: Medicare overhaul not the focus next year
© Greg Nash

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP super PAC drops .5 million on Nevada ad campaign Blue wave poses governing risks for Dems Dems seek to rebuild blue wall in Rust Belt contests MORE (R-Wis.) said Wednesday that Medicare reform will not be a focus for Republicans next year amid Democratic warnings about cuts to the program.

Instead, Ryan said that the focus next year will be on welfare reform, which he said could include changes to Medicaid.

“Do we want to get entitlement reform? Of course we do, but the kinds of entitlement reforms I think that we’re going to be pursuing are the kinds that help make sure we get people get from welfare to work,” Ryan said on ABC. “That’s what really we’re focused on this spring.”

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Pressed on whether he is ruling out Medicare cuts in 2018, Ryan did not fully make that vow but said it is not the focus. Democrats have been pointing to his longstanding desire to overhaul Medicare to rely more on private insurance, something they warn would effectively end it as an open-ended entitlement.

But Ryan indicated he is not aiming for that broad overhaul next year, which would be extremely difficult politically in an election year and with a narrow Senate majority. He instead mentioned Medicare payments to health-care providers, a narrower issue.

“There are some provider issues that we may be addressing as, you know, some providers in the Medicare field in some cases are getting overpaid, we want to make sure that that’s being dealt with, but as far as talking about beneficiaries, we’re not focused on that, we’re focused on getting people from welfare to work,” Ryan said.

He did say that welfare reform could encompass Medicaid changes, another controversial area that provoked a backlash, including among some Republicans, as part of ObamaCare repeal earlier this year.

“We’re focused on giving states more flexibility in Medicaid,” Ryan said. “Those are things we think we can do to bring more savings to the budget and more importantly to get people from welfare to work, and those are the kinds of things we’re going to be focused on in 2018.”

He did not elaborate on what the Medicaid changes would be.