Republican bill would open federal health plan to all seniors

Charles Dharapak/AP

Republican lawmakers on Thursday proposed replacing Medicare with the health care plan currently offered to federal and congressional employees.

“Medicare as we know it is a false promise. It is unsustainable,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told reporters. “Why don’t we take a program that’s worked for years in a fashion that people can relate to? If it’s good enough for your senator, it ought to be good enough for you.”

Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky.; Jim DeMint, R-S.C.; and Mike Lee, R-Utah; co-sponsored the legislation and introduced it Thursday.

The Congressional Health Care for Seniors Act would allow seniors to choose from plans currently offered under the Federal Employee Health Benefit program, beginning in 2014.

The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association said the bill raised an automatic red flag.

“For more than four decades, the FEHBP has provided a stable, though not overly generous health insurance benefit to federal civilian employees, retirees and their dependents,” NARFE President Joseph Beaudoin said in a statement. “To throw open the doors of the plan to absorb the flood of seniors currently enrolled in Medicare poses certain risks and must be examined closely.”

Paul conceded the plan was not beneficial to federal employees in his synopsis of the bill.

“Federal employees are the one group of people who may have a legitimate argument with the Congressional Health Care Plan for Seniors,” he wrote. “Asking them to share their health care with the elderly will cause their premiums to increase.”

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