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House GOP: Medicare reform on 2012 agenda

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After House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare bit the dust last year, GOP leaders say that in 2012 they’ll push for reforms to the program that are still substantial — but perhaps a bit scaled back.

“Of course we are,” House Speaker John Boehner told “Fox News Sunday,” when asked whether the House intended to pass a budget this year.

Last year, the House passed a spending plan put forth by Mr. Ryan that would have turned Medicare into a voucher system, but the Senate voted it down.

Seemingly undeterred, Mr. Boehner said the House will again propose a “serious budget” this year that could include a softer version of Mr. Ryan’s Medicare overhaul program. Last month, Mr. Ryan released a plan that retains traditional fee-for-service Medicare but offers the option of using credits to buy private health insurance.

At the House Republicans’ annual retreat last week, Mr. Ryan also hinted that the budget his committee is working on will attempt Medicare reform, telling reporters that bipartisan support for his ideas is growing.

But only one Democrat — Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon — has publicly backed even the watered-down version of Mr. Ryan’s plan. And the Obama administration was quick to oppose it, with spokesman Dan Pfeiffer saying it will “end Medicare as we know it.”

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