Will Thune Vote to Dismantle Medicare?

Will Senator John Thune vote to dismantle Medicare like Congresswoman Kristi Noem or join other GOP Senators voting to stand up for our?

The US Senate is poised to bring the controversial House Republican budget to a vote this week.

“At least four Republican Senators have walked away from the GOP’s plan to end Medicare as we know it,” notes Ben Nesselhuf, Chairman of the South Dakota Democratic Party. “The question remains: will Senator Thune join them?”

The Republican Party’s plan to dismantle Medicare stoked national controversy soon after the US House of Representatives approved the plan – with Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s vote – a few weeks ago.

Estimates from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office showed that by 2030, the Republican plan to replace Medicare would only cover 30% of the cost of a private insurance policy equivalent to Medicare in its current form. That means seniors would have to pay over $6000 more out of pocket for a Medicare equivalent plan than they pay today.

Yesterday, in a traditional conservative congressional district, the Republican candidate for Congress, Jane Corwin, was defeated by Democratic nominee Kathy Hochul in a special election that largely became a referendum on the Republican plan to end Medicare.

“Americans – regardless of Party – support Medicare. Republicans saw yesterday how that support can translate in elections,” Nesselhuf says.

With Medicare sowing dissent in the GOP, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has given Republican Senators free reign to vote as their conscience allow.

Senator Thune’s commitment to South Dakota’s seniors will be defined by this vote, Nesselhuf believes. “Congresswoman Noem sacrificed our seniors. I hope Thune takes this opportunity to protect them.”

Contact Chairman Ben Nesselhuf at 605-271-5405 or ben@sddp.org.

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Background:

House Budget Approved

Roll Call: 235 yeas, including Congresswoman Kristi Noem, 193 nays. [U.S. House of Representatives, 4.15.11]

House Budget Ends Medicare

“The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills.” [Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]

Seniors’ Healthcare Costs Would Rise

“Under the proposal, most elderly people who would be entitled to premium support payments would pay more for their health care than they would pay under the current Medicare system. For a typical 65-year-old with average health spending enrolled in a plan with benefits similar to those currently provided by Medicare, CBO estimated the beneficiary’s spending on premiums and out-of-pocket expenditures as a share of a benchmark amount: what total health care spending would be if a private insurer covered the beneficiary. By 2030, the beneficiary’s share would be 68 percent of that benchmark under the proposal, 25 percent under the extended-baseline scenario, and 30 percent under the alternative fiscal scenario.” [Congressional Budget Office, 4/5/11]

Medicare Key to Shocking Dem Win in NY House race

Kathy Hochul told her supporters they had picked the right issue to fight a Republican on long-held Republican turf. The Democrat rode a wave of voter discontent over the national GOP’s plan to change Medicare and overcame decades of GOP dominance here to capture Tuesday’s special election in New York’s 26th Congressional District. [ABC News, 5.25.11]

Senator Brown (R-MA) to vote against Ryan Budget

There is now clear evidence of the trepidation with which Republican senators view the budget passed by their House counterparts. In an opinion article in Politico, Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts writes that he will not vote for the budget conceived by Representative Paul D. Ryanof Wisconsin, which includes an unpopular proposal to revamp Medicare.“While I applaud Ryan for getting the conversation started, I cannot support his specific plan — and therefore will vote ‘no’ on his budget,” Mr. Brown writes. “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.” [New York Times, 5.23.11]

Four GOP Senators May Vote Against Ryan Budget

Sen. Lisa Murkowski has become the latest Senate Republican to shy away from Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan, saying she may not vote for the House budget later this week because of her concerns about how it might affect Medicare… She’s the fourth Senate Republican who has either come out against the House Medicare plan or expressed doubts about it. Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Scott Brown of Massachusetts have said they won’t support it when it comes up for a Senate vote later this week. Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine has been vocal with her criticism of the Medicare plan, too, but hasn’t said how she will vote. [PoliticoPro, 5.23.11]

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