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Pawlenty: I'll Release Alternative Medicare Plan Soon

4:38 PM, May 25, 2011 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Former Minnesota governor and presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty reiterated today that while he thinks Paul Ryan is a "very bright, courageous congressman," he doesn't wholeheartedly support Ryan's budget. "I think in general the direction of it is positive, but I'm going to have my own plan," Pawlenty said during a question-and-answer session at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. "Some things will be the same, some things will be different."

Tim Pawlenty official photo

"Our Medicare plan, which we'll have out shortly, in the not too-distant future will have some differences," he continued. "We'll be speaking about payment reforms, paying providers not just for volume but for quality and results as part of their compensation. We'll be offering a variety of choices to people so they can choose the current program or select from other options. We'll be talking about incentivizing consumers, so they can make any number of choices they like but they'll be incentivized to make wise and good choices."

Pawlenty's statements on Medicare reform were nothing new--he's been talking about payment reforms and giving new entrants options for at least the past year. Today, Pawlenty declined to elaborate on how his "payment reforms" would work or what options seniors would have. He told the Daily Caller's Matt Lewis on Monday that one option "could be a premium support model."

Paul Ryan has said the option of letting future beneficiaries choose to enter the traditional Medicare program is a "fine idea worth considering," and it could hold down costs if structured the right way. But he's been very critical of Pawlenty's talk of "payment reforms." Ryan has likened the proposal to the president's plan to cut Medicare spending through a panel of bureaucrats established by Obamacare.  

"Medicare has yet to do this successfully," Ryan told me in an April 27 interview. "The president wants his IPAB [Independent Payment Advisory Board] to do essentially the same thing. It’s very difficult for a centralized bureaucracy to do that.... When they get these targets, like the president is giving them, you know a half a trillion dollars, they just sort of do indiscriminate cutting across the board, lowering reimbursement to providers, causing providers to drop out of the program altogether."

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