Maryann Tobin

Rep. Paul Ryan has not given up on his war against Medicare. Last week the Tea Party conservative unveiled a modified plan to phase out Medicare as it currently exists.

In the new plan, Ryan has joined forces with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to subject Medicare to direct competition from private for-profit insurance companies and cut $525 billion from benefit spending.

Earlier this year when Ryan first suggested turning Medicare into a private insurance voucher program, "Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich initially castigated the proposal as right-wing social engineering," according to Reuters.

The pubic did not take well to the suggestion that Medicare should be part of Republican budget cutting measures. Polls showed an overwhelming 76% against such a plan.

Since the battle over health care reform began in 2008, it has faced heavy opposition from healthcare industry lobbyists who do not want government regulation on exclusions for pre-existing conditions or what they can charge for premiums or services.

Private insurance companies stand to gain enormous profits if they can get congress to privatize Medicare so they can run it on a for-profit basis.

While Republicans have tried to portray themselves as defenders of Medicare, they are in fact working toward dismantling the system in smaller bites, in an effort to avoid backlash from voters who do not want the program destroyed.