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Tommy Thompson says he has a secret plan for Medicare, better than the one from his fellow Wisconsite at the top of the ticket, Paul Ryan. He attempted to explain it to the Wisconsin State Journal editorial board last week.

Thompson's half-baked plan definitely distances him from Ryan, but gives him some problems beyond being associated with trying to end Medicare. Those problem in a nutshell: He doesn't know if it will save any money for the federal government or the beneficiary. Like the Ryan plan, it would give seniors the option of getting private insurance, presumably with some kind of voucher or premium support, but it would put them in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHB). When pressed to explain how this would save any money, Thompson got a little cranky.
Q: So either CBO has scored it out and you haven’t, or you…

THOMPSON: I haven’t scored it out, I have no capabilities…

Q: You’re saying that CBO has looked at your plan….

THOMPSON: They have not looked at my plan. They have looked at a plan similar to this that was put in by…Dee, I’m telling you, I have not scored it. I’m laying the plan out to save Medicare….This is a plan by Paul Ryan, I’ve modified it. I think my plan is better…. When I’m elected to the United States Senate, I have a chance to use the computers and have the access to CBO and I’ll be able to make the necessary things. I’m talking conceptually, about an idea out there that has been advanced by somebody else and I think it makes a lot of sense.

Q: So if you haven’t scored it and you don’t know how much it’s going to save, how do you know it’s going to be a big advance?

THOMPSON: Because Medicare is going broke and we have to do something about it. It’s a plan, Dee. It’s a plan that I believe more than likely will work.

See, he doesn't have access to the computers that Congress has that figures stuff out like how much stuff costs. How in the world is some guy like him, who was only the Health and Human Services secretary under George W. Bush, supposed to figure out something so complex as the federal health benefits plan? Yeesh.

Goal Thermometer
Thompson's struggle tells us a few things. First, he knows the Ryan plan is poison politically, and he's grasping for straws to come up with something seniors will like better. Two, he's not spending a lot of time thinking seriously about policy. And finally, that he didn't take much away from his experience setting health policy for Bush. Because Medicare is more effective at holding down costs than the FEHB. It seems like Thompson is continuing to basically just phone it in in this campaign.

Click here to donate $3 to Tammy Baldwin on Act Blue.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Oct 22, 2012 at 08:17 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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