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Silence from vulnerable Florida Republicans on the GOP budget that ends Medicare 

TALLAHASSEE, FL — While GOP leadership in D.C. enthusiastically released their new budget this week to praise from Republicans like Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio, the silence from Florida's vulnerable congressional Republicans has been deafening.  Four House Republicans in tough re-election battles, including Steve Southerland (FL-02), Bill Young (FL-13), Vern Buchanan (FL-16), and David Rivera (FL-26) have been remarkably silent on the new Republican budget that would replaced Medicare with a “voucherlike” program while giving tax cuts for the wealthy. Last year each Republican heralded the Ryan budget but in this election year -- with the approval rating of Congress at an all time low --  Democrats are asking Florida’s GOP Congressman: are they on the side of Washington Republicans or Florida’s families when it comes to Medicare.

"Will these vulnerable Florida Republicans stand with Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio in support of Ryan's budget that ends Medicare as we know it, or will they stand with middle class families," asked David Bergstein of the Florida Democratic Party. "The election-year silence from these embattled, vulnerable congressmen is deafening. Although I suppose Buchanan and Rivera have an excuse for avoiding the press — being under federal investigation will do that."

Background

Ryan Budget Proposes a “Voucherlike” Program. “To deal with the influx of retiring Baby Boomers, the GOP budget reprises a controversial approach to overhauling Medicare that would switch the program — for those under 55 today — from a traditional "fee for service" framework in which the government pays doctor and hospital bills to a voucherlike "premium support" approach in which the government subsidizes purchases of health insurance.” [Associated Press, 3/20/12]

NCPSSM: Ryan’s Plan Ends Medicare’s Defined Benefit. According to the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, the Ryan plan “would convert Medicare from a defined benefit plan to a premium support — essentially a voucher — system […] The Wyden-Ryan voucher plan offers only a slight twist on the failed approach to privatize Medicare that was originally offered by Representative Ryan and rejected by the majority of Americans.” [National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, accessed 3/19/12]

CBO: Ryan policies would cut Medicare Benefits and Seniors Could Face Higher Costs. “Medicare benefits would likely shrink under Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) latest proposal, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday […] Ryan’s Medicare plan would convert some of the program’s funding into subsidies for private insurance […] CBO said it’s possible that seniors would face higher costs under the Ryan plan, and said other possible side effects include ‘reduced access to health care; diminished quality of care; increased efficiency of health care delivery; less investment in new, high-cost technologies; or some combination of those outcomes.’” [The Hill, 3/20/12]

AARP: Ryan’s Plan Would Increase Health Care Costs for Older Americans. AARP CEO Addison Barry Rand wrote to Members of Congress on House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget resolution. In the letter, Rand wrote: “this proposal simply shifts these high and growing costs onto Medicare beneficiaries, and it then shifts even higher costs of increased uninsured care onto everyone else […] By creating a ‘premium support’ system for future Medicare beneficiaries, the proposal is likely to simply increase costs for beneficiaries while removing Medicare's promise of secure health coverage -- a guarantee that future seniors have contributed to through a lifetime of hard work.” [AARP Letter, 3/21/12]

Ryan’s Plan Includes Tax Cuts for the Wealthy. “Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, is returning to center stage as the GOP doubles down on his conservative budget priorities — including tax cuts for the wealthy and a new version of his plan for major changes in Medicare.” [Los Angeles Times, 3/16/12]

70 Percent of Americans Want to Keep Medicare As it Is. “In Kaiser’s February tracking survey, 70 percent of Americans say ‘Medicare should continue as it is today, with the government guaranteeing seniors health insurance and making sure that everyone gets the same defined set of benefits,’ while 25 percent say ‘Medicare should be changed to a system in which the government would guarantee each senior a fixed amount of money to put toward health insurance. Seniors would purchase that coverage either from traditional Medicare or from a list of private health plans.’” [Kaiser Family Foundation, 2/12]

Three Quarters of Floridians Think Washington Makes Too Many Decisions Behind Closed Doors on Medicare. A February 2012 AARP survey of Florida adults found that 74 percent agree that Washington is trying to make too many decisions behind closed doors when it comes to Medicare. [AARP Survey, February 2012]

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