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House Debates Ryan Budget: Predictably Partisan

The tone was immediately and undoubtedly partisan Wednesday when the House began considering the Republican-backed 2013 budget resolution that the House Budget Committee recently approved.

Photo by Karl Eisenhower/KHN

The House was expected to debate the Budget Committee-approved resolution for four hours, and then turn to six complete substitutes, including one that would replace the resolution with President Obama’s 2013 budget proposal from earlier this year. Ryan’s plan, however, is expected to easily pass. The debate could spill into Thursday, and a vote is expected Thursday.  C-SPAN is covering the debate live.

The plan, written by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., would make fundamental changes to Medicare. Ryan and other Republicans argued that significant deficit reduction is needed, and they hammered Democratic leaders in the Senate for deciding not to consider any budget resolution this year.

Democrats claimed that Ryan’s plan would harm seniors on Medicare and Medicaid. “As a member of Congress representing seniors in Florida, this budget is devastating for seniors,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. “This would pass like a tornado through nursing homes. Sixty percent of people in nursing homes are on Medicaid.”

Ryan’s Medicare proposal is nearly identical to a premium support idea that he put forward in December with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and to one that GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney crafted a month earlier in November. Ryan’s budget would provide a set amount of money for future Medicare beneficiaries – those currently under the age of 55 – to purchase either a private health plan or the traditional government-administered program through a newly created Medicare exchange. That would begin in 2023.

Ryan’s plan would void the Medicaid expansions of the health law and give states full leeway to run their programs as they see fit, with federal funding coming to them in the way of block grants.