Following rowdy town hall meetings this week in which constituents confronted their representatives for voting for the GOP plan to effectively end Medicare, Republican leaders are insisting that they are not having second thoughts about the scheme.
But even Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) — perhaps Congress’ most outspoken conservative and most sincere promoter of the anti-government Tea Party movement — seems to be backing away from the plan. Appearing on Fox News Sunday today with host Chris Wallace, Bachmann refused to back everything in the GOP budget, saying there should be an “asterisk” next to her vote for the plan because she is concerned about how it would shift healthcare costs to seniors:
WALLACE: What do you tell people nearing retirement who say I can’t afford to pay more of my own healthcare costs out of pocket? Which is what the Ryan and Republican Study Committee plans would do.
BACHMANN: And I understand that. I put an asterisks on my support, I put a blog posting up that said just as much. That is my area of concern, I support this bill with that proviso. … One position that I’m concerned about shifting the cost burden to senior citizens. Seniors are saying, look, I’m not in a positon to be able to handle that. I also share that real fear, that’s why I put that asterisks out there. [...]
WALLACE: So you’re not wedded to the idea of a voucher program for Medicare?
BACHMANN: I’m wedded to the idea of efficiencies and cost cuttings and savings in healthcare, but how we get there is open to discussion.
Indeed, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that “[u]nder the proposal, most elderly people would pay more for their health care than they would pay under the current Medicare system.”
On Thursday, in an op-ed on Red State, Bachmann wrote that while she supports most of the GOP budget, “I’ve expressed caution about how we approach the issue of Medicare.” Considering that Bachmann has previously said we must “wean everybody” off Medicare and Social Security, her new hesitancy to do so belies the extremely unpopular nature of the GOP plan.