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Jeb Bush plan on Medicare includes scaling back retirement benefits for wealthier Americans

in 2017/Top Headlines by

Jeb Bush released proposals on Tuesday to limit the rising costs of Medicare and Social Security in a blog post first published on his website.

Regarding Medicare, Bush said he supports “Medicare premium support,” where the federal health care program for seniors will provide a fixed amount toward a set of guaranteed options. It’s a plan that incoming House Speaker Paul Ryan has supported in the past, something Bush notes. It’s also doubtful it could get bipartisan support, since no Democrats have supported such a proposal since Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden backed away from his support.

Bush writes that seniors would still get a simple brochure in the mail from the government every fall, but would have access to new options, such as plans that that specialize in treating congestive heart failure or diabetes or Alzheimer’s.

Bush would also allow seniors to keep their Health Savings Accounts to help cover out-of-pocket health care spending and have more financial security.

Perhaps most significantly, he would reduce the government subsidies that wealthier seniors receive.

As an incentive for Americans to continue to work past the age of 62 (when they are eligible to begin receiving Social Security), Bush would reduce benefits for seniors who retire earlier, while removing taxes and other disincentives for those who work past age 66, the current retirement age, to encourage higher workforce participation among seniors.

The former Florida governor will also take up some of the reforms from the Simpson-Bowles Commission, a bipartisan plan that’s been shelved since its introduction five years ago. They include increasing the minimum Social Security benefit. He also would mandate that higher-income workers “who can afford to save for retirement on their own during their careers, get a smaller check when they retire.”

Bush concludes that “these kinds of  reforms will ensure that Social Security remains stable over the next 75 years.”

Democrats such as Alan Grayson and Bernie Sanders have argued that fixing Social Security’s solvency issues can be alleviated by increasing benefits and raising the cap on income subject to payroll taxes above its current $118,500 threshold.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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