Sen. Barrasso Actually Wants To Pay More Out Of Pocket For His Health Care?

May 17, 2011 12:03 pm ET — Kate Conway

Chances are that being forced to pay up to $20,000 in annual medical fees when he's retired isn't what Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) wants in his future, but in trying to justify his party's push to dismantle Medicare that's just what he ends up arguing. "I do support what Paul Ryan is doing," Barrasso said on Fox News this morning of the toxic House-passed plan to change Medicare into a voucher system. "I would like to have more choices when I hit Medicare age."

BARRASSO: I do support what Paul Ryan is doing. He made a legitimate, serious proposal to deal with a legitimate and serious problem that America is facing. I'm not here to either endorse or criticize any of our presidential candidates, but I'm here to tell you we need to do something, and scaring Americans about Medicare is not the way to go. We need real solutions. We need to solve this problem. And Paul Ryan's approach does nothing to impact Medicare for anybody 55 or above, but it does talk about people 54 and below and ways that we can strengthen the program and give people more choices. I would like to have more choices when I hit Medicare age. I think people of that age ought to have an opportunity to select to same the level of options that members of Congress get. I think that's a way of solving this problem.

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It's an outright lie that the GOP proposal would give seniors "the same level of options that members of Congress get." And despite Barrasso's logical contortions, there's no way he can — at least not with any semblance of honesty — twist a plan to reduce the amount of money the federal government spends on seniors' health care into a claim that they're 'strengthening the program' and 'giving people more choices.'

Sure, seniors will be able to choose to put the vouchers they get from the government towards different plans, but any way you slice it, the amount of care those vouchers cover will be less than what seniors get now. By 2022, the amount seniors will have to pay out-of-pocket for their health care will double compared to current Medicare. Some seniors could be left personally responsible for medical bills of around $20,000.

That might be a fine solution for members of Congress like Barrasso, but for your average American who has worked hard all his or her life believing in the promise of Medicare, the inordinately large medical bills that would result from the GOP plan could be devastating.

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