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Paul Ryan Still Wants to Re-do Medicare

Speaker has long championed changes to elderly health plan

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said the House could tackle Medicare changes in the next fiscal year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said the House could tackle Medicare changes in the next fiscal year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Friday it is possible the fiscal 2018 budget resolution could propose changes to the Medicare program.

Speaking on WISN 1130, a conservative radio station in Milwaukee, Ryan said he’s long championed changes to the federal health insurance program for people 65 and older.

“You know that I’ve long passed in my budgets comprehensive Medicare legislation because that is the biggest one of all the unfunded liabilities,” Ryan said. “The question is, can we get everybody else to agree, and that is just an ongoing conversation we’re having.”

Ryan also touted a bill narrowly passed by the House — in which the speaker took an unprecedented vote himself — that aimed to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law.

Ryan counseled patience regarding concerns that the House version of the bill would not lower premiums. If the House version passes the Senate as is, which many lawmakers say is unlikely in the next few months, it is not likely to give insurance companies enough time to come up with new plans that could lower premiums until 2020.

“Insurers say it takes about two years to build new plans for new marketplaces,” Ryan said. “It’s too soon for an insurer to all of a sudden come up with a new plan for a new market in 2018. It would take a couple of years.”

But he touted the bill including a mechanism that would allow money to be put into federal risk share programs.

The Wisconsin Republican said Congress’ next moves would also focus on changing the tax code, which he hoped would be passed by at least the House chamber by the time lawmakers break for August recess.

“I would like to say yes but I’m not going to put an artificial deadline on it,” Ryan said when asked if he could get it done by the summer. “We have set for ourselves a deadline of getting it done in calendar year 2017.”

Meanwhile, back in Ryan’s 1st congressional district shortly before his radio hit, Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan hosted a town hall in Kenosha where he blasted the Republicans for their health bill, which the Congressional Budget Office has estimated would lead to higher premiums and fewer people carrying health insurance. 

Pocan joined other members of the House Democratic caucus who are going into districts in their home states represented by Republicans to hold town halls that those Republicans are not hosting. “This is an unusual move,” Pocan said. “I don’t do it with disrespect.”

Ryan told the radio host he was in Lake Geneva on Friday. The host added  Ryan had held a town hall with high school students recently.

Contact Rahman at or follow her on Twitter at @remawriter

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