George W. Bush: ‘I’m… A Medicare Guy’

May 13, 2011 2:54pm

ABC’s Z. Byron Wolf (@zbyronwolf) reports:

In addition to telling an assembly of hedge fund managers in Las Vegas about how he learned of Osama bin Laden’s demise, former President George W. Bush made a point of staying out of politics, driving home the point that he’s retired.

But he used some politically charged terminology to do it.

"I am a simple, retired guy – a Medicare guy,” Bush said of his current status as a former politician.

He referred twice to himself as “a Medicare guy” during the speech Wednesday in Las Vegas, according to an ABC News contributor in attendance. And he said that he’ll use his post-presidency to influence policy, not politics.

But Medicare is very political this election cycle. Republicans in the House of Representatives voted in favor of a proposal by Rep. Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, that would transform Medicare for people currently under the age of 55. Democrats have said they’ll use that vote to argue that Republicans want to end Medicare.

Republicans have argued that transitioning Medicare to a system more based on the free market would help the program in the long run.

Bush, 64, will be eligible for Medicare when he turns 65 in July. As a former president, Bush is also entitled to treatment in military hospitals. 

Former presidents have a history with Medicare. Former President Harry Truman was the first person enrolled in Medicare when President Lyndon Johnson signed it into law in 1965

Bush has not said whether will support the Ryan plan.

Read more about Bush’s appearance in Las Vegas. 

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