Even as the fight over the 2011 budget rages, Washington is set for the next battle. Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s budget maestro, unveiled his 2012 budget plan Tuesday, proposing $4 trillion in cuts over 10 years and calling for drastic changes to Medicare, the national health plan for the elderly, that would eliminate the program as we know it. Under Ryan’s proposal, the government would give beneficiaries money for private coverage, rather than directly reimbursing hospitals as it does today. Medicaid, which covers the poor, would change into block grants to states rather than reimbursements. Whether the Ryan plan is feasible is another question. Liberals are already howling that the plan will aggressively hurt the poor and elderly as well as the middle class, while Republicans—even those who agree with Ryan’s aims—worry that the plan could be politically suicidal, touching the “third-rail” entitlement programs.
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