The Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2011
The House Republican plan for overhauling Medicare would fundamentally change how the federal government pays for healthcare, starting a decade from now, likely resulting in higher out-of-pocket costs and greater limits to coverage for many Americans. The current spending level on seniors in Medicare is widely viewed as unsustainable, given rising medical costs and the aging population. Medicare calculates that it spent an average of $11,743 on beneficiaries in 2009, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's solution is to end the current Medicare program for people born in 1957 and after. Starting in 2022, when those Americans begin turning 65, they would no longer get their medical bills paid directly by the government, which the Wisconsin Republican in his blueprint released Tuesday calls an unsustainable "blank check commitment." Instead, those age 65 would be entitled to $8,000 a year on average in 2022, according to an estimate by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The amount would increase as the enrollee aged and with the rise in the Consumer Price Index.