The Washington Times - December 15, 2011, 04:22PM

The White House is rejecting a new bipartisan proposal to overhaul Medicare, arguing that it would undermine the health care program for seniors, causing it to “wither on the vine.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney Thursday said the proposal, sponsored by Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, and Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, would raise premiums, forcing many seniors to leave traditional Medicare and join private plans and shift costs from the government to seniors.


“At the end of the day, this plan would end Medicare as we know it for millions of seniors. The Wyden-Ryan proposal is the wrong way to reform Medicare,” Mr. Carney told reporters.

The Wyden-Ryan proposal is the first bipartisan attempt to cut skyrocketing Medicare costs by setting up competition between traditional Medicare and private insurance plans, theoretically driving down costs. The federal government would give seniors a fixed amount to spend on the health plan of their choice.

While most Republicans strongly support a previous plan proposed by Mr. Ryan that would also set up competition, Democrats and the White House roundly rejected it. Mr. Wyden and Mr. Ryan now say they want to initiate a new dialogue about overhauling Medicare and tone down the political rhetoric on the topic.