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Ramesh Ponnuru

Good News for Paul Ryan's Medicare Plan

Paul Ryan's plan for Medicare premium support gets some help from the Congressional Budget Office.
The Congressional Budget Office has given Paul Ryan some reasons to smile. Photographer: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images
The Congressional Budget Office has given Paul Ryan some reasons to smile. Photographer: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

It didn't attract much attention, but the Congressional Budget Office has changed the way it looks at the Republican plan for Medicare -- and its new look at the issue is good news for the plan's chief sponsor, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.

Ryan's plan has gone through several versions, but all of them have been based on the old bipartisan idea of "premium support." The idea was that instead of paying for senior citizens' medical services directly, the federal government would help them purchase private coverage plans. It would offer enough help to let seniors buy a benefits package comparable to today's at no additional cost to them. But to buy more than that they'd have to pay extra, thus giving them an incentive to economize.