In his interview with CBS News’ Katie Couric before the Super Bowl earlier this week, President Obama said that he was going to ask Republicans to put their health care ideas “on the table.” “What I want to do is to look at the Republican ideas that are out there,” said Obama. “How do you guys want to lower costs?”
Just days before Obama made his call for GOP health care ideas, Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) offered a radical proposal for reform in a conversation with the editorial board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. According to a blog post by the editorial board, Bond called on Friday for giving means-tested vouchers to Medicare enrollees:
Even before he asked, Missouri’s senior U.S. senator was outlining his: Privatize Medicare and limit benefits for upper-income retirees. Meeting with Post-Dispatch editors and reporters on Friday, Mr. Bond called for radical changes to the federal health insurance program that covers 45 million elderly and disabled Americans.
Since its inception in 1965, Medicare has provided the same basic package of benefits to everyone, regardless of income. On Friday, Mr. Bond called for giving Medicare enrollees a voucher to buy health insurance on their own. “You’re going to have to means-test the benefits,” he said, adding that upper income retirees wouldn’t “get much of a voucher.”
Though Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and RNC Chairman Michael Steele have made protecting Medicare part of their argument against President Obama’s health care reform plans, Bond isn’t the alone in dreaming of dismantling the system. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) told ThinkProgress last weekend that Americans should be weaned off Medicare. In his recent alternative budget proposal and the one he released in April 2009, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) advocated giving vouchers to everyone 54 and younger instead of having them enter the traditional Medicare program. It is unclear whether Bond is referring to current enrollees or just future enrollees.
Bond also isn’t the only Missouri Republican with disdain for Medicare. In July 2009, Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), who is hoping to succeed Bond after he retires, suggested to a conservative Missouri radio host that the “government should have never” started Medicare or Medicaid.