Senate GOP Abandons Ryan Plan’s Medicare Changes
Senate Republicans appear to be sending a message to their House brethren that they aren’t going to back the Ryan Plan’s proposed changes to Medicare:
A deep rift is opening wider and wider in the Republican Party over controversial proposals to cut Medicare.
Senate Republicans have decided to avoid jeopardizing their chances of capturing the upper chamber in next year’s elections and will not echo the House GOP’s call for a major overhaul of the popular health entitlement for seniors.
The Senate Republican decision to split from their colleagues in the lower chamber comes after a month during which Democrats, led by President Obama, have excoriated House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) spending blueprint.
The Medicare split is the first indication of major differences on the budget between Republicans in the House and Senate during the 112th Congress. There was no daylight between Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) during the fiscal 2011 spending battle, which bolstered GOP leverage in the government shutdown debate.
The first shot across the bow will come in the form of a budget being introduced by Freshman Senator, and Tea Party favorite Pat Toomey:
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is expected to unveil a budget blueprint Tuesday that leaves Medicare alone, the strongest signal yet that Senate Republicans have no intention of duplicating an ambitious — and controversial — overhaul put forward by the House GOP.
However, the plan being offered the Senate Budget Committee member does retain the House’s proposal to transform Medicaid into a block-grant program, according to a summary obtained by The Hill.
Toomey’s blueprint also repeals Democrats’ healthcare reform law while retaining its Medicare cuts and mandates changes to state medical malpractice laws that aim to save the federal government about $64 billion.
A Toomey spokesman declined to comment before the senator announces his budget on Tuesday. The Democratic-controlled Senate is expected this month to vote on — and reject — the House GOP budget, which would replace Medicare with subsidies for private insurance starting in 2022.
That idea has come under increasing criticism that it would shift medical costs to seniors while doing little or nothing to control healthcare inflation. House members have shown signs of abandoning their proposal over the past month, and last week Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said he did not plan to bring up such legislation if it’s not going to move in the Senate.
Clearly, of course, it isn’t and the Toomey budget is, it seems, the first step on the road to a compromise that may actually get the government funded in time this year. Of course, that would require the House GOP to realize that they overreached with the Ryan Plan and start over again.