The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller

The Wyden-Ryan Medicare reform approach is worth a serious look

Photo of Lanny Davis
Lanny Davis
Former Special Counsel to President Clinton

Among the most hypocritical aspects of certain purist Democrats who call themselves liberals is their willingness to attack any Democrat who veers even slightly from liberal orthodoxy.

Sadly, their attacks almost always turn personal, substituting name-calling for thoughtful analysis of the facts.

Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden is one of the Senate’s leading progressives, with a voting record on every major issue defining liberalism that is second to none.

Yet he has also been a target of attack by purist liberals — because he has shown a willingness to mix liberal approaches (relying on government to assure social equity) with conservative principles (relying on private market competition and individual choices) to achieve traditional progressive social goals.

In 2010, Wyden introduced the Healthy Americans Act (HAA), co-sponsored by Utah conservative Sen. Bob Bennett.

It combined a commitment to national healthcare coverage and the individual mandate with allowing everyone to cash out their employer-provided insurance to exercise their choices to purchase insurance among competing private insurance companies.

The bill quickly attracted broad bipartisan support from leading liberals and conservatives in the Senate.

Had President Obama and the House and Senate Democratic leadership supported that bill, it was estimated it would have attracted 70 or more votes in the Senate and overwhelming bipartisan majorities in the House.

But it never gained traction among the liberal base of the Democratic Party, and the Obama White House never seriously considered it.

Now, in recent months, Wyden has joined with conservative Republican Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) to come up with a Medicare reform proposal that reflects a similar mixture of liberal and conservative principles.

It combines the “Medicare Guarantee” — ensuring all seniors access to Medicare as we know it — with providing seniors an option to purchase private Medicare policies that would compete for their business.