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Medicare Reform May be Dead


Washington DC (WHBL) - Wisconsin’s Herb Kohl joined other U-S Senate Democrats in rejecting Paul Ryan’s plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program. As expected, the Senate killed the budget blueprint from the G-O-P-controlled House on vote of 57-to-40. Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson voted to support the package. But five moderate G-O-P senators joined all Democrats in killing it. The Democrats said the plan from Janesville’s Ryan would “end Medicare as we know it.” Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, has proposed scrapping the pay-as-you-go health program for seniors, and replacing it with less-expensive vouchers to help the elderly buy private insurance. The House package also includes sharp cuts in domestic programs, including Medicaid health coverage for the poor. Democrats staged the vote to put Republicans on record in support of the Ryan plan, in the apparent hopes that it will hurt them at election time. Republicans slammed the Democrats for not coming up with a budget plan of their own. President Obama offered a plan in February that included higher taxes on wealthier Americans – and senators from both parties shot it down in a vote forced by Republicans. Democrats made Ryan’s Medicare reforms the central issue in a special House election Tuesday in which Democrats grabbed a long-time Republican seat from the Buffalo area. Ryan blamed the defeat on the presence of a third-party independent, and he accused Democrats of distorting his Medicare package.