by Joseph Lawler · March 12, 2017
House Speaker Paul Ryan, in an interview that aired Sunday, touted Republicans’ Obamacare replacement as the “most historic entitlement reform” ever because of its changes to the federal Medicaid program.
“This is the most historic entitlement reform we have ever had,” the Wisconsin Republican said in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “This is bigger entitlement reform than welfare reform in 1996.”
The Republican Obamacare replacement would transition Medicaid from a jointly-administered federal-state low-income health insurance program to per-capita funding block-granted to the states, capping the growth rate of funding.
Conservative criticisms that the changes would only start being made in 2020, Ryan said, are missing the forest for the trees. “Look at the historic achievement this is,” he said.
Ryan rose to prominence within the GOP by promoting a budget plan that would reform entitlements in order to cut federal spending, including the old-age healthcare plan Medicare.
But now he faces conservative critics who argue that his Obamacare replacement plan delays changes to Medicaid and codifies a new entitlement program in the form of refundable tax credits for health insurance.
Those tax credits, Ryan argued, are merely equalizing the treatment of health insurance for people who do not get employment-sponsored health insurance and the tax break that comes with it.
“It’s been longstanding conservative reforms that we do this,” he said. “Is it frustrating that some conservatives are now changing their tune and mischaracterizing these things? Of course it is. But that’s how the legislative process works.”