Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Rep. Paul Ryan on His Medicare Rationing Plan: "Rationing happens today! The question is who will do it?"

The star of the Republican Party, Rep. Paul Ryan, has been getting a tremendous amount of press lately (guilty as charged) for his Road Map for America's Future. The road kill you see up ahead are senior citicizens and retirees. Check out this analysis from the Minneapolis;

Ryan wants to privatize both Medicare, the government-run health care program for seniors, and Medicaid, the joint state/federal health care program for the poor and elderly (many depend on Medicaid to pay for nursing home care). He also wants to put caps on how much the government spends on them. For example, seniors currently enrolled in Medicare would get vouchers to buy their own private health insurance plan. The money set aside for vouchers would not grow in lock-step with Medicare's projected costs.

Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein calls it
rationing, since he believes seniors would have to buy less comprehensive policies and cut back on care. Ryan, in an interview with Klein, argues that the programs are growing themselves into extinction, and his plan at least gives seniors the choice to choose the care they receive. Said Ryan: "Rationing happens today! The question is who will do it? The government? Or you, your doctor and your family?"

Ryan, so far, is one of the few politicians who's willing to point this out. His prescriptions for the Big Three entitlements are radical and unpalatable. But at least, he's offering up specific solutions. It's a brutal yet admirable kind of honesty, one that's in short supply around the nation's capital.
Ryan gets kudos for being brutally honest? Radical and unpalatable is good? Here's hoping all of this is in short supply in the nations capital. But there's more, where Ryan reduces health care to a mere product . From Ezra Klein's interview:

Klein: The Lasik thing is interesting because it gets to the question of whether health care is a market. When I think of getting Lasik, or buying a television, I can walk out of the store. That’s what gives me as a consumer my power in the market. But if I have chest pains and my doctor prescribes a bypass, how do I walk out of the store?

Ryan: In Milwaukee, the price of bypass ranges from $47,000 to $100,000. Nobody knows where to go for quality, or the prices. So wouldn’t it be good for the prices and quality metrics to be publicized? And let people make a decision. There’ll always be some level of co-pay or deductible or co-insurance that’s going to push people towards the best value.

Then, when you have those chest pains and you’re being rushed in the ambulance, you’ll be rushed to a hospital that’s all along been competing for business and has been improved by that process. You’ll get better health care than you otherwise would. That’s how you improve the system.

Just a thought: If a hospital has to reduce prices to compete, will that reduce the amount of care and quality of treatment? It brings to mind this one free market principle, an old latin warning; "Buyer Beware." That's Ryan's health care gamble for Americans.


  1. Ryan is truly unbelievable. I would like to think Obama gave him some face time so he would show his true colors and suicide his plans by talking. I'm not so sure.

    The health care industry wins, insurance companies win, the national deficit goes down a few percentage points and people get to ration their own health themselves by the level of wealth they have accumulated. Pure Rand. Pure evil.

  2. "Pure Rand. Pure Evil" Very well put. I might use that sometime.