Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Lieberman and Coburn Urge Super Committee to Take Up Medicare

Sep 29, 2011 | Health Care

The submissions keep on coming. Now, Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) have sent a letter to the Super Committee, pressing them to consider their Medicare proposal.

If you recall, the two Senators released a Medicare plan in June that would save around $500 billion over ten years. The plan included many policies that the Fiscal Commission plan had (not surprising, considering Coburn's membership on the Commission), such as reforming Medicare cost-sharing rules and restricting Medigap first-dollar coverage. In addition, they included big ticket items like raising the retirement age to 67, increasing Part B premiums from 25 percent to 35 percent of costs, and further means-testing those premiums. A small part of these savings was used to pay for a three-year doc fix.

Lieberman-Coburn Savings
Provision2012-2021 Savings (billions)
Raise retirement age$124
Reform cost-sharing rules (including Medigap)$130
Further increase cost sharing for high earnersunknown
Accelerate home health savings$9
Phase out payments for bad debts$23
Means test Part B and Part D premiums$15*
Increase Part B premiums$241
Enact three-year doc fix-$38
Enact anti-fraud and anti-abuse measuresunknown+
Total>$504

*Estimated at $10 to $20 billion     +Estimated by staff at up to $100 billion

In addition to submitting their proposal, both Senators also offered to testify before the Super Committee on the subject of Medicare reform. It's clear that Sens. Coburn and Lieberman are willing to put their full weight behind the proposal, which they describe as possibly being "the basis for a bipartisan agreement to save our government's finances and preserve Medicare for future generations." We agree, which is why it would be wise for the Super Committee to seriously consider this proposal. Medicare will get hit whether the Committee succeeds or not (provider payments are subject to the trigger); this is the perfect opportunity to get Medicare's finances in order and put overall health spending on a more sustainable path.

The list of submissions to the Super Committee is short but growing. See our full table for all the specific proposals that have been sent so far.