Sen. Scott Brown Runs Away From House GOP Plan To Unmake "Medicare As We Know It"

May 23, 2011 2:15 pm ET — Alan Pyke

As tastemakers on the political right announce that support for the House GOP's plan to replace Medicare with a voucher system is a litmus test for those seeking the party's 2012 nomination, that very same plan is scaring off Republicans vying for reelection. In upstate New York, Jane Corwin (R) is turning her back on the voucher program in the closing days of a special House election. Yesterday on Fox News Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) could hardly bring himself to defend the vouchers, limply offering that "Paul Ryan would say it's not a voucher plan" and declining to explain the difference.

And today, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) announced in a Politico op-ed that "I don't support Ryan's Medicare plan." Brown writes that the House GOP plan is an abrupt departure from "Medicare as we know it," and endorses the Democratic view that we should "work inside of Medicare to make it more solvent" while preserving the basic shape of the program:

Why can't I go along with the Ryan Medicare plan?

First, I fear that as health inflation rises, the cost of private plans will outgrow the government premium support- and the elderly will be forced to pay ever higher deductibles and co-pays. Protecting those who have been counting on the current system their entire adult lives should be the key principle of reform. [...]

Our country is on an unsustainable fiscal path.

But I do not think it requires us to change Medicare as we know it. We can work inside of Medicare to make it more solvent.

This is not the time for finger-pointing or the usual blame game. For every reckless decision - on both sides of the aisle - that led us to this point where we are $14 trillion in debt, we now will have to make a hard decision to help get the country on the right track.

That track must lead to a sound financial future - where we protect and provide for the elderly while also promoting fiscal responsibility.

That Brown is reversing himself very publicly after telling a country club audience he intended to vote for the House GOP's budget should trouble Massachusetts voters, but his acknowledgment that the plan unmakes "Medicare as we know it" is problematic for the entire party. Brown's vision sounds a lot like Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) line from last week about the Democratic plan for Medicare reform: "It's called 'Medicare.'"