This morning’s News and Observer features a front-page profile of Senator Richard Burr who is not up for election this year and is content apparently to have “kept such a low profile that he’s barely been visible.” I guess Burr is fine with a low profile partly because he doesn’t want to advertise some of those unnamed “bold things” he talks about that aren’t so popular. In fact, the profile doesn’t mention his biggest “big idea” in a bill filed this year that got more press than anything else he has ever done – the Burr plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program by 2016.
In the Burr plan seniors on Medicare would get a fixed amount in a voucher to spend on a health plan. Then they could go onto the private health insurance market and see what sort of a deal they could get. They could also try for a government plan “modeled on Medicare” but benefits wouldn’t be spelled out in any plan – that would be left to the magic of the market. He’d also raise premiums and the eligibility age for Medicare.
Vouchers to replace traditional Medicare along with higher premiums aren’t very popular with any seniors I know. Maybe that’s why Burr is keeping so quiet about what was just a few months ago his biggest idea.