Congress

Stop the ‘Medi-scare’ politics, Ryan tells Democrats – the system needs changes

House Speaker Paul Ryan discusses Medicare during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016.
House Speaker Paul Ryan discusses Medicare during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. AP

Medicare needs to be revamped, House Speaker Paul Ryan emphasized Thursday, as he blasted Democrats for insisting Republicans are planning a war on seniors.

“I think what’s happening is you’re getting the latest wave of Democratic talking points to try and play Medi-scare politics,” the Wisconsin Republican said, “which is what they typically do every other Tuesday.”

Ryan, speaking at his weekly news conference, responded to Democratic warnings earlier this week that Republicans are eager to privatize the government-run health care program for the elderly and some others. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who will lead Senate Democrats next year, said the GOP was “plotting a war on seniors next year.”

Ryan has been a longtime advocate of changes to Medicare, which is expected to exhaust its reserves by 2028.

Among his ideas: “You get to choose among plans that are comprehensive and guaranteed to meet your benefits. Or if you want to stick with the current traditional program, you can do that as well.”

Ryan said he had not talked about Medicare with President-elect Donald Trump.

Ryan warned, “We are going to have to do things to preserve and shore up this program. The reforms that we’ve been talking about here in the House Republicans for many years are reforms that do not affect the benefits for anyone in or near retirement.”

But for younger people, “it won’t be there for us if we stay on the current path.”

As a result, Ryan said, “We have to do things to fix this program so we can guarantee that it’s there intact for current seniors, but also that there’s something there for us when we retire.”

David Lightman: 202-383-6101, @lightmandavid

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