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Republican Senator Lamar Alexander warns against simultaneous overhaul of Medicare and Obamacare

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A senior U.S. Senate Republican warned his party on Thursday against simultaneously overhauling Medicare and the Obamacare health insurance program, saying this would be “biting off more than you can chew.”

The cautionary comments from Senator Lamar Alexander came after House Speaker Paul Ryan, long an advocate of privatize Medicare, said Republican lawmakers would be discussing reforms of the health insurance program for the elderly with President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.

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Republicans won the White House as well as keeping their majorities in both houses of Congress in elections last month, and are now busy preparing an agenda for next year after the new Congress is sworn in on Jan. 3 and Trump takes office Jan. 20.

“Well, of course it’s up to the speaker and Senator (Mitch) McConnell (the majority leader) what our agenda is, but my advice to them would be, save Medicare for another day,” Alexander, chairman of the Senate’s health, education, labor and pensions committee, told reporters in a Capitol hallway.

Medicare serves more than 50 million Americans who are elderly or disabled. More than one-third of them are in Medicare Advantage plans run by private insurers like UnitedHealth Group Inc. The balance receive medical benefits directly from Medicare on a traditional fee-for-service basis.

The government has been trying to cut spending on the program, which rises each year with the cost of medical services and drugs.

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“We want to begin immediately to repeal Obamacare,” Alexander said. “Trying to deal with the solvency issues in Medicare at the same time falls into the category of biting off more than you can chew … a little humility here would be in order, we can’t do everything at once and we shouldn’t try.”

Ryan earlier Thursday said that Medicare was on a path to going bankrupt around 2028, and needed reform, a repeat of his long-standing stance. He wants to convert the fee-for-service program into a system of subsidies for seniors, to buy coverage from private insurers or a scaled-back Medicare.

Democrats including Senator Chuck Schumer have seized on the fact that Trump’s nominee to head the Health and Human Services department – Representative Tom Price – supports major changes to Medicare, to warn Republicans against privatizing the program.

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Alexander also said that while Republicans will move quickly to repeal Obamacare, the repeal probably would not take effect for two or three years, during which time lawmakers can work on a replacement plan.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Tom Brown)

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Trump approves of North Korea missile tests: ‘I have no problem’ because they’re just ‘short-range missiles’

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On Thursday, in conversation with reporters, President Donald Trump said that he had 'no problem' with North Korea's new round of missile tests.

"Short-range missiles, we never made an agreement on that," said Trump. "I have no problem, we'll see what happens, but these are short-range missiles. They're very standard."

The thought that short-range missiles would still be capable of hitting our allies in the region, like South Korea and Japan, does not seem to have occurred to him.

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Trump says he has "no problem" with North Korea testing missiles because they are just "short-range missiles" that are "very standard." pic.twitter.com/fdKtQ6yrBE

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Elections 2016

Russian Twitter propaganda predicted 2016 US election polls

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When Robert Mueller completed his long-awaited investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, he left many questions unanswered.

But one conclusion was unequivocal: Russia unleashed an extensive campaign of fake news and disinformation on social media with the aim of distorting U.S. public opinion, sowing discord and swinging the election in favor of the Republican candidate Donald Trump.

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Elections 2016

Beto O’Rourke calls for a ‘war tax’ in release of health care plan for veterans

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The Democratic presidential candidate uses his eighth policy announcement to focus on an area that he prioritized in Congress.

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke on Monday morning released a plan to improve the lives of veterans, returning to an area of priority during his time in the U.S. House for his latest 2020 policy rollout.

In keeping with measures he supported in Congress, the plan calls for a "responsible end" to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — reinvesting $1 out of every $2 saved in veterans programs — and the creation of a Veterans Health Care Trust Fund for each future war. The fund would be paid for by a "war tax" on households without service members or veterans.

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