Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) has a lengthy post on his website detailing the bipartisan Medicare reform proposal he crafted in 2011 with Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, who has been the target of relentless Democratic attacks.
Wyden’s post, titled "Bipartisan Health Options," undermines the political attacks lobbied by members of his own party, explaining that Congress must act soon to save Medicare from insolvency.
"Unless Congress enacts meaningful Medicare reform in the near future, seniors will be faced with inevitable cost-shifting and eventual benefit cuts until Medicare doesn't look anything like the program does today," he writes.
This statement, which has been verified by Medicare’s trustees, undercuts the oft-repeated and factually incorrect Democratic claim that Ryan’s plan would "end Medicare as we know it," because the program "as we know it" will cease to exists in the absence of significant reforms.
"First of all, the hallmark of Medicare is not its structure but its guarantee that every American will have high quality health benefits as they get older," Wyden writes. "And, as has been mentioned before, ‘Medicare as we know it’ will end in 2022 if nothing is done to change its current course. Wyden-Ryan takes action to ensure the Guarantee is preserved."
Wyden also shoots down the Democratic argument that Ryan favors a "voucher program" for Medicare.
"Wyden-Ryan does not give seniors vouchers," he writes. "Instead Wyden-Ryan would guarantee that seniors can afford their health insurance premiums by giving seniors premium support payments, the amount of which will be determined by the actual cost of insurance premiums each year."
Former Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles has said describing Ryan’s plan as a voucher program was "really unfair."
The Oregon Democrat further notes that the Wyden-Ryan plan contains "no changes for those in or near retirement" and retains traditional Medicare as an option for seniors, two facts that appear to be lost on the likes of Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz (D., Fla.).