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GOP sens. proposes seniors healthcare plan

March 15, 2012 at 6:43 PM

WASHINGTON, March 15 (UPI) -- A bill introduced Thursday by Republicans in the U.S. Senate would end Medicare and offer seniors the same private healthcare plans enjoyed by Congress.

The "Congressional Health Care for Seniors Act" would permit seniors to choose from plans offered to the 4 million federal employees through the Federal Employee Health Benefit program, The Hill reported.

"Our goal is to save Medicare from bankruptcy and ensure seniors have affordable, high-quality healthcare -- a crisis President Obama has only made worse during his time in office," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said. "Allowing seniors access to the Federal Employee Health Benefit program, which members of Congress and federal employees use, will give them more choices and lower their out-of-pocket costs."

The bill was sponsored by Graham, along with Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Jim DeMint of South Carolina.

Paul's office released a statement saying the plan would cut the deficit by $1 trillion over 10 years and offer seniors "richer benefits, higher-quality healthcare, and better access to doctors and providers."

The synopsis released by Paul's office conceded adding seniors would lead to an increase of about 24 percent in costs for federal workers currently enrolled in the plan, The Hill reported.

Joseph Beaudoin, president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, said the GOP plan would "both bring down Medicare as we know it and threaten the stability of the FEHBP."

"As for the senators' notion that America's seniors should be in the same health care system as America's elected officials, they seem to have forgotten that starting in 2014, members of Congress will no longer be covered by the FEHBP but will be in state-based health care exchanges."

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