May 29, 2011

AS W UNDERSTOOD...:

Don’t Scorn Paul Ryan (JOE NOCERA, 5/28/11, NY Times)

The Ryan plan, which would give seniors a fixed amount they can use to buy health insurance, would undoubtedly shift the cost burden over time from the government to seniors themselves, making health care far less affordable for millions of people. Ryan says that “empowering” health care consumers will help control costs, but that’s absurd: Medicare itself has far more pricing power than the people who actually need treatment.

“It is a rejection of the social insurance principles that are at the root of Medicare,” said Theodore Marmor, whose 1973 book, “The Politics of Medicare,” remains the classic work on the subject. “Its pro-market conception is standard Republican orthodoxy.” [...]

[W]hile the Democratic Party might be well served in trying to use the Ryan plan to bury their political opponents, the country itself is not. The debate we need is not about whether Medicare should be reformed, but how.

Marmor, for instance, says that the root problem is not with Medicare itself but with the larger phenomenon of rising health care costs. And he finds himself in philosophical agreement with Ryan about, as he puts it, “the need to put Medicare on a budget,” though he would approach it differently. Rivlin, along with former Senator Pete Domenici, a Republican, has come forth with a less-mean-spirited variant of Ryan’s voucher plan. There are also parts of the Ryan plan that deserve serious consideration, like means-testing — that is, forcing the elderly wealthy to pay more for health care than everyone else.


...all you have to do is rename a plan and give the Democrats credit and they'll do whatever you want.


Posted by at May 29, 2011 7:42 AM
  

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