Rep. Price Tries — And Fails — To Get Medicare Trustee To Say Health Care Reform "Ends Medicare As We Know It"

June 22, 2011 4:34 pm ET — Meredith Kormes

In an effort to draw the attention away from the disastrous Republican Medicare plan, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) made the baseless claim in a House Ways and Means Committee hearing that the Affordable Care Act "ends Medicare as we know it." Not wanting to stop there, Price tried to get one of the witnesses, Robert Reischauer, a Public Trustee for Medicare and Social Security, to go along with him. Despite Price's insistence and repeated interruptions, Reischauer clearly explained that Medicare was not "ended" by the health care law.

PRICE: I want to touch on this whole issue of Medicare changing. In fact, Mr. Reischauer, you said, there are significant changes to Medicare through PPACA, which is the reform bill that they put through. So in fact, what has already been adopted, ends Medicare as we know it. Would agree with that statement?

REISCHAUER: It transforms the program as all legislation in the past has—

PRICE: So Medicare as we know it right now, in this colloquial term that's used out there in the market place, Medicare as we know it doesn't exist under the Democrats' plan already. Is that correct?

REISCHAUER: Well, the question is: what are we referring to as Medicare? If we're saying a fee—

PRICE: Medicare as we know it, what we have right now.

REISCHAUER: —fee for service, unmanaged care program. You know, it exists after the Affordable Care Act, as it did before the Affordable Care Act.

PRICE: But Medicare as we know it, the program that exists right now, has been changed significantly under PPACA. Would you agree with that statement?

REISCHAUER: There have been significant changes—

PRICE: So Medicare as we know it is already gone and done so by the reform bill that was put in place before.


With his answer, Reischauer also indirectly showed why the GOP Medicare plan does end Medicare as we know it: It changes the program from a guaranteed benefit, fee-for-service program, to a privatized voucher system.

Additionally, while the Affordable Care Act does make changes to the Medicare system, those changes actually strengthen the system by reducing waste and fraud and providing additional benefits to seniors.