Newt Gingrich, — who famously proclaimed that he would like to see Medicare “wither on the vine” and has supported plans to privatize Medicare since at least 1995 — praised the bipartisan Medicare premium support proposal unveiled today by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) this morning. The plan would provide seniors with pre-determined premium support vouchers to purchase benefits through an exchange of private plans or the existing fee-for-service program. The government subsidy would “rise or fall along with the actual cost of the policies,” but could still shift costs for some seniors and push beneficiaries into private insurance.
During an interview with the Des Moines Register this morning, Gingrich had this to say:
GINGRICH: We have today a very important breakthrough in that there is a Wyden/Ryan Medicare reform bill. It represents Senator Wyden, the Democrat from Oregon, Congressman Paul Ryan from Wisconsin. It is a bipartisan effort to really come to grips with one of the major entitlement challenges we face and to have that bill introduced and have them publicly together talking about this is really a healthy, maybe it’s the beginning of breaking up the log jam and starting to get Democrats and Republicans to talk with each other. And I think that Paul Ryan and Ron Wyden deserve some of the credit. I mean this is a very courageous thing for each of them to do. To reach out, come together and offer a genuinely bipartisan bill, given the atmosphere you have in Washington.
Gingrich has said that he would have voted for Ryan’s original plan to end traditional Medicare and even proposed kick-starting premium support “this year“: “I would offer on a voluntary basis, a supplement plan, a voucher—I wouldn’t call it a voucher—but some kind of support plan this year,” Gingrich told conservatives.
For more analysis on the Wyden/Ryan plan, click here.