Rivlin throws grenade into Medicare debate

Font Size:

One of the Democratic Party’s prominent voices on fiscal issues has thrown a hand grenade into the debate over the long-run sustainability of Medicare, the signature Great Society health program for the elderly.

Alice Rivlin, the 79-year-old former budget director under President Clinton, has teamed up with 40-year-old Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the incoming chairman of the House Budget Committee, on a plan to essentially privatize Medicare for those turning 65 a decade from now.

It’s very similar to Ryan’s “Roadmap for America’s Future” in that seniors would get lump-sum payments for the value of their Medicare benefits and use them to buy coverage in the private marketplace. The payments would climb slightly faster than consumer inflation, but they wouldn’t climb as fast as health care costs have been for decades. As a result, people now in their thirties would likely end up paying for a much bigger share of their health insurance when they retire than today’s seniors. On top of that, people now in their thirties would no longer even know how high their future out-of-pocket costs were likely to climb.

Full Story: NationalJournal.com – Rivlin Throws Grenade Into Medicare Debate – Monday, November 22, 2010