Ryan said there was emerging bipartisan support for such "premium support" plans as the best way to save Medicare, which he said was going broke.
In December, Ryan and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden unveiled a new approach to cut Medicare costs through a "premium support" model that allowed seniors to buy insurance through a regulated exchange while retaining Medicare's traditional fee-for-service model. The plan was viewed by critics as a ploy to soften opposition to future reforms. The Obama administration has steadfastly opposed reforms that would end Medicare for seniors or amount to what it calls "radical privatization" of the program. Representative Tom Price, who heads the House GOP Policy Committee, said there was a lot of enthusiasm at the Baltimore retreat to tackle fundamental reform of "automatic spending programs" such as Medicare and Social Security.
BUDGET REFORM PLANS
Ryan said his budget plan would aggressively shrink deficits to put U.S. debt on a downward path, adding the U.S. would be in a situation similar to some debt-stricken European countries in a few years if no action was taken. He did not specify an amount for planned cuts. "We feel we have an obligation to show the country our plan to pre-empt a debt crisis in this country. What matters most as is that we get the trajectory right," he said. Despite the controversy raised about the House's last budget plan, Ryan insisted that Americans be offered an alternative as a vision of what the Republicans would accomplish if elected.
"People want to be bolder on the budget. People feel good about our budget experience and the budget we passed, even the Northeasterners, the people from the tough seats, they feel we did the right thing on the budget and they want to keep doing it." Ryan also said he hoped to reform the budgetary process, which he said was outdated and broken, noting the Senate had not passed a budget resolution in nearly three years.
Ryan said the panel would begin to refine some of the proposals in coming weeks, but the process would be halted for the committee's work on the fiscal 2013 budget plan, which will be unveiled in March. The reforms will resume later in the year once the budget plan is passed, he said.