Deficit reduction plan would turn Medicare into a voucher program

For the second time in two weeks, a bipartisan group of budget experts introduced a plan Wednesday to rein in the deficit and pump new life into the economy.

The report, Restoring America's Future, was developed by the Bipartisan Policy Center's Debt Reduction Task Force, which is chaired by former Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici and former White House Budget Director Alice Rivlin. The center is a think tank that promotes moderate approaches to economic policy, Politico reports.

The plan would cut the budget deficit by $6 trillion, or about $650 billion a year over the next nine years. The cuts suggested are more severe than the $4 trillion the presidential National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform recommended last week.

By restraining rising healthcare costs, the Bipartisan Policy Center's plan would save $756 billion through 2020. Included among the recommendations made were:

  • Turning Medicare into a voucher program after 2018.
  • Giving employers and employees incentives to select more cost-effective health plans.
  • Gradually raising Medicare Part B premiums from 25 to 35 percent of total program costs and bundling Medicare payments for post-acute care.
  • Imposing an excise tax on the production and importation of drinks sweetened with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.

Near unanimous opposition from liberals and conservatives suggest this latest bipartisan plan will not advance far, USA Today reports, because it would raise taxes and reduce future Social Security benefits, aside from turning Medicare into a voucher program.

To learn more:
- read the executive summary or the full report from the Bipartisan Policy Center
- read the Politico story
- here's the NPR article
- read the USA Today story

Related Article:
Docs, providers would make sacrifices under deficit-reduction scheme