Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told The Daily Caller that the Medicare reform plan put forth by Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan is a “serious proposal” but President Obama has “made it clear” that it is not the right direction for the program.
In 2010, however, President Obama spoke highly of Ryan’s plan.
“I think Paul [Ryan], for example, the head of the Budget Committee, has looked at the budget and has made a serious proposal. I’ve read it. I can tell you what’s in it and there’s some ideas in there that I would agree with but there’s some ideas we should have a healthy debate about because I don’t agree with them. The major driver of our long-term liabilities, everybody here knows, is Medicare and Medicaid and our health care spending. Nothing comes close,” said President Obama at the GOP retreat on January 29, 2010.
Unfunded liabilities are benefits promised by the federal government to individuals through entitlement programs like Medicare.
“Medicare as you know is a $38 trillion unfunded liability, it has to be reformed for younger generations because it won’t exist because it’s going bankrupt and the premise of our idea is look, why not give people the same kind of health-care plan we have in Congress? That kind of reform proposal for Medicare,” Ryan — recently selected as Mitt Romney’s running mate — then said to Obama.
“Right, right,” Obama responded. “As I’ve said before, this is an entirely legitimate proposal.”
Obama also acknowledged that Ryan’s plan does not affect beneficiaries over 55 years of age.
“I mean, there’s a grandfathering in, but just for future beneficiaries, right? That’s why I said I didn’t want to — I want to make sure that I’m not being unfair to your proposal,” Obama said to Ryan.
TheDC asked Sebelius if she agrees with Obama’s comments made at the retreat.
“Well, I certainly agree that it is a proposal, a serious proposal. I think that we fundamentally disagree with the House Republican budget plan to end Medicare as we know it and shift it to a voucher system,” she responded in a video interview with TheDC in Alexandria, Va.
Sebelius was then asked if she thinks Obama should be telling voters that the GOP wants to “end Medicare as we know it” in his re-election campaign.
“I think that’s exactly what it does, it ends Medicare as we know it, shifts it to a voucher program and actually shifts a large amount of costs, over $6,000 a piece on to seniors so it does cap the federal expenditure but it does it by shifting costs to seniors, not by finding ways to reduce the underlining costs,” she told TheDC.
“So, it is a proposal. It’s out there. It passed the House of Representatives but I think the president has made it clear that he thinks it’s absolutely not the direction we should go for Medicare.”
Sebelius participated in an event to promote the “Look Before You Lock” campaign to prevent heatstroke deaths of children left in parked cars.