Sounds like the GOP House may still be ready to charge ahead with Paul Ryan's controversial Medicare plan but antsy Republicans in the GOP-controlled Senate are demurring. Understandable, given that it's not a particularly easy sell.
GOP split on Medicare overhaul
Congressional Republicans are divided on whether to push forward with an overhaul of Medicare long championed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
The House budget includes Ryan’s proposal to convert Medicare into a premium support system in 2024, giving new beneficiaries the option of enrolling in private insurance.
Republicans have long seen Medicare reform as a key ingredient in getting Washington’s spending under control, and are under pressure now that they control both chambers of Congress to put their beliefs to the test.
The problem is that Senate Republicans must defend 24 seats in 2016 to keep their majority, and they are not excited about jumping into a battle with Democrats over a sensitive entitlement program ahead of the election, particularly when President Obama might veto the proposal in the first place.Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) insisted he’s “up for” reforming Medicare, but said Senate Republicans are unlikely to embrace the House’s plan.
“I think that might be difficult to get through our conference,” said Graham, a possible presidential candidate next year. “Probably some people disagree with the concept [and] some people are up for reelection.”
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who could face a difficult re-election race against former Gov. Ted Strickland (D-Ohio) next year, also deferred on the Ryan plan.
He said he wants to stick with the Senate’s budget proposal, which would find $430 billion in Medicare savings requested by Obama, but leave the traditional program intact.
“My sense is the Senate approach — which takes the president’s number on Medicare and then provides flexibility to the authorizing committees of jurisdiction — is the way the Senate would like to go,” Portman said.
“That’s the way I would prefer to go because I think that enables the committees to be able to do their work, hopefully on a bipartisan basis.”