The House Republican plan to change Medicare wouldn’t cost seniors much more than under the Clinton administration’s proposal, according to new estimates released Wednesday by GOP leaders.
House Speaker Newt Gingrich last month predicted the elderly would pay $7 more monthly by 2002 under the GOP plan than under President Clinton’s budget and Republican aides said it might be as much as $10 higher a month.
But a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the House bill indicated the Medicare premium under the Republican plan would be $87 a month in 2002 - a little more than $4 above what it would be under the White House’s approach.
The Ways and Means and Commerce committees released the analysis. The CBO also indicated that the House Republican plan would increase the monthly premium from the current $46.10 to $54 in January 1996 - $10 higher than President Clinton’s proposal.
“We were wrong and we admit it,” said Rep. Thomas J. Bliley, Jr., chairman of the Commerce Committee.
One reason the premiums are so close is that the Republicans are proposing to save $137 billion from the Part B side of Medicare over the next seven years. That includes $54 billion in higher premiums.
The White House disputed the Republicans’ figures and claimed the gap in monthly premiums in 2002 would be $18, not $4. “Once again the House Republicans are using misleading numbers,” said Laura Tyson, chair of the National Economic Council.
The Senate version of the GOP Medicare reforms would set the premium at $92 in 2002. The House and Senate bills differ in some respects.
Republicans want Medicare’s elderly and disabled beneficiaries to keep paying 31.5 percent of the costs of Medicare Part B coverage for doctor bills and outpatient expenses.