Senators Lieberman and Coburn propose changes to Medicare
In an attempt to reduce the nation’s debt burden by reforming Medicare, Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) revealed a joint proposal yesterday to address the program’s unsustainable path. Their plan outlines savings of more than $600 billion over the next ten years by increasing premium costs for seniors, forcing wealthier seniors to pay more, and raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67.
At a press conference Tuesday (6/28/11), the Senators gave the following remarks:
“We can’t balance our budget without dealing with mandatory spending programs like Medicare. We can’t save Medicare as we know it. We can only save Medicare if we change it. And that’s what… [we] are proposing,” said Senator Lieberman.
“Our plan recognizes that continuing Medicare as it is currently structured is a financial impossibility. Medicare as we know it may not exist in five years if Congress does not take steps now to preserve the program. Every year we wait makes the inevitable task of structural reform more difficult. I’m encouraged Senator Lieberman has put a serious and significant Medicare reform proposal on the table,” Dr. Coburn said.
However, some have already lined up against the plan.
The top Democrat in the U.S. House, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, quickly rejected Coburn and Lieberman’s plan.
“This proposal is unacceptable, especially for struggling middle-class Americans,” she said in a statement. “It is unfair to ask seniors to get less in benefits and wait longer to get onto Medicare,” she said.
Democrats in the House and Senate are pushing to end corporate tax breaks to raise revenue, which Pelosi said would be a more fair solution.
This proposal, while receiving a mixed reception, encourages a critical discussion in Congress. As negotiations continue over how to reduce our long-term deficits, the federal government’s largest expenditures – Medicare, Social Security and defense – must remain at the forefront of discussions.