In a move that is fated to incite political mutiny, Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla., photo) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) unveiled a bold Medicare reform proposal on Thursday that would expedite a transition to private health insurance, increase the eligibility age for oncoming seniors, and enact higher premiums for middle- to upper-class retirees.
The two Republican Senators say they are not out to win a political popularity contest, but instead they want to stimulate a "grown-up" conversation among fellow lawmakers and the public about the need to reform an entitlement system that, in its current state, will induce serious fiscal consequences. "All of us in Congress are running around fixing everything except our biggest problem," Coburn affirmed in an interview. "If you don’t start fixing Medicare now, you can’t save it."
"Tom [Coburn] and I believe that we have a moral obligation to save Medicare for our parents and our children, and to provide seniors a choice in the system so they can have a cheaper health care system," Sen. Burr added on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. "It’s less expensive I might say, but with a better health outcome."
Medicare finances healthcare for 49 million seniors and disabled people, but the so-called "trust fund" for inpatient care is estimated to become insolvent by 2025 — meaning, payroll tax revenues will be insufficient to cover the expected benefits. In actuality, there is no trust fund, as Dr. Lawrence R. Huntoon explains:
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Photo: Sen. Tom Coburn