Scott Brown won’t back GOP Medicare overhaul

Washington Bureau

Republican Sen. Scott Brown has come out against Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan and its proposed overhaul of Medicare, a move that further exposes the deep divisions within the GOP over the proposal.

FOR THE RECORD: An earlier version of this story said Susan Collins was up for reelection next year. She’s next up in 2014.

In an Op-Ed article in Politico, Brown, from Massachusetts, said he couldn’t support Ryan’s plan because it would force seniors to pick up too much of the burden for rising healthcare costs.

“Our country is on an unsustainable fiscal path. But I do not think it requires us to change Medicare as we know it,” Brown wrote, borrowing a phase from Democratic critics of the plan. “We can work inside of Medicare to make it more solvent.”

Brown is the latest GOP moderate to take a stand against Ryan’s budget, which aims to cut $5.8 trillion in federal spending over 10 years. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine has already said she’d vote against it.

Brown is up for reelection next year.


Nearly six weeks after it was approved by the GOP-led House, Ryan’s plan continues to be unpopular with large segments of the public, and Democrats have been hammering Republicans on the issue -- with some apparent success. Still, some party leaders are insisting on fealty to the Ryan plan, and outspoken GOP critics have been chastised.

Brown had suggested that he was leaning toward voting in favor of the plan, which would transform Medicare into a voucher-style system dubbed “premium support.” On Monday, he praised Ryan for starting a conversation about the program’s rising costs, but said he could not sign on to the specifics.

“I fear that as health inflation rises, the cost of private plans will outgrow the government premium support -- and the elderly will be forced to pay ever higher deductibles and co-pays. Protecting those who have been counting on the current system their entire adult lives should be the key principle of reform,” Brown wrote.

Democrats were not ready to let Brown off the hook. They said Brown had not made clear whether he support other efforts to increase the role of private insurance companies in Medicare.

“Brown’s op-ed today was certainly a tantalizing read, but there is still so much that Brown is refusing to tell his constituents about where he stands when it comes to Medicare and protecting seniors,” said Matt Canter, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.