ATR Supports Coburn-Lieberman Medicare Plan
In a letter to Sen. Coburn and Sen. Lieberman, ATR President Grover Norquist expressed his support for the lawmakers' Medicare reform proposal:
"Congratulations on releasing your Medicare reform proposal this week. As you’ve described it so far, it is free of tax increases and focuses entirely on controlling the cost growth of Medicare. If Medicare is not fundamentally reformed (as in the House Budget or the Ryan-Rivlin plan), the type of Medicare changes your plan envisions are the only hope of preventing Medicare spending from careening out of control this century.
Your plan outline focuses on three key areas:
- Medicare should look like normal health insurance. The creation of a $550 unified deductible and a $7500 catastrophic out-of-pocket limit would make Medicare look more like the type of health insurance most Americans already have. It would also incent Medicare recipients to control costs even as the safety net for high medical expenses is strengthened. Finally, it asks Medicare recipients to pay a somewhat higher percentage of their Part B premium, though still lower than the 50% premium contribution rate Medicare originally envisioned.
- Taxpayers cannot afford to give unlimited Medicare benefits to affluent seniors. There simply is not enough taxpayer dollars or ability to borrow to justify an unlimited Medicare benefit to affluent seniors. Your plan increases the amount wealthier seniors would have to contribute to their own Medicare benefits, and would ask them to have a higher out-of-pocket limit than other seniors. The alternative would be raising taxes, cutting benefits for less affluent seniors, or going into unsustainable levels of debt.
- Recognize longer life expectancies by gradually conforming the Medicare retirement age to the Social Security normal retirement age. When Medicare was created in 1965, seniors could be expected to be on the program for a few short years. Thanks to breakthroughs in medicine and related technologies, life expectancy today is in the 80s and growing. Social Security has partially recognized this by raising the normal retirement age to 67. Medicare should do the same.
While ideal Medicare reform would include the premium support model contained in the Ryan-Rivlin and House Budget plans, your outline gives a path forward for Medicare should fundamental reform not be achieved. Most importantly, and pending a full score, the Coburn-Lieberman outline appears to address Medicare’s problems without raising taxes."