Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Double down on Pawlenty's Medicare Option proposal

Tim Pawlenty has proposed, vaguely, to modify Paul Ryan's scrapping/replacement of Medicare by saying he'd keep Medicare as an option people could choose in competition with privatized alternatives:

"I'm going to have my own plan, John, that will feature some differences from Congressman Ryan's plan. It will feature performance pay rather than just volume pay ... it will allow Medicare to continue as an option, but it will be priced against various options," Pawlenty said.

Recall that Ryan's plan for Medicare for future seniors is to replace it with something very similar to what Obamneycare provides to non-seniors. That makes Pawlenty's proposal, if (Big If) applied fairly, Obamneycare plus a vigorous, already-dominant public option.

Democrats should offer a deal. They should say that they don't think privatizing Medicare is a good idea, but Pawlenty's proposal has some safeguards, so they'll agree to it as long as the Republicans agree to let non-seniors also be eligible (or eligible for a stand-alone public equivalent of the Medicare option in case seniors don't want to share Medicare). If the Republicans are confident that private alternatives can outcompete Medicare among seniors, they shouldn't have any worries about making making the options available to nonseniors. Democrats should have the converse perspective, and then we'll see who's right.

Maybe this offer would do no more than expose the Republican lack of confidence in their proposal. OTOH, if they drink their own Kool Aid, it could get interesting.

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