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Sen. Tom Coburn defends Medicare proposal, says it's necessary to save the program

Sen. Tom Coburn's Medicare proposal to save $600 billion is drawing fire from Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and the AARP.
BY CHRIS CASTEEL Published: June 29, 2011

The AARP, the nation's largest lobby group for seniors, praised some elements of the proposal — including the $7,500 annual cap on out-of-pocket expenses and the stabilization of physician payments — but said the savings come from cost-shifting and reducing benefits.

AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond said, “Simply shifting the bill to seniors does nothing to improve health care quality or combat the real problem of rising costs.”

Coburn argued that some parts of the plan would reduce costs because people would be more reluctant to seek services if they had to pay out of pocket for them.

Part of plan

to reduce deficit

Coburn intends to include changes to Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid in the 10-year, $9 trillion deficit-reduction plan he has been working on for the past month. He told reporters Tuesday that he is still working on the details.

Asked how much would be new revenue, Coburn said, “It will be around a trillion.”

As negotiations continue over how to avoid a debt crisis in August, House and Senate Republican leaders have rejected any new taxes, including the elimination of tax breaks for individuals and businesses.

Coburn has said that new revenue would be necessary to deal with the nation's rapidly escalating debt, and he is expected to target numerous tax breaks while proposing lower overall rates. The president's fiscal commission, on which Coburn served, recommended last year about $1 trillion in new revenue over 10 years through modifying or eliminating tax breaks.


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