House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has probably seen plenty of reports saying his plan would “end Medicare as we know it.” Today on Fox News, Ryan, apparently feeling a little desperate, tried to turn the argument around.
“You know, the irony of this … is with all this Mediscare that the Democrats are running, it’s Obamacare itself that ends Medicare as we know it. Obamacare takes half a trillion dollars from Medicare — not to make it more solvent but to spend on this other government program, Obamacare. And then it creates this 15 panel board of unelected, unaccountable, bureaucrats starting next year to price control and ration Medicare for current seniors.
Oh great, Paul Ryan has been reduced to “I know you are but what am I.”
It shouldn’t be dismissed too casually, though, because Ryan’s comments on Fox News have a larger importance.
First, the Affordable Care Act doesn’t “end Medicare as we know it.” That’s deeply stupid. The ACA eliminated a wasteful and unnecessary giveaway to insurance companies, and as Igor Volsky explained, the law “reduced annual increases in payments to hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies and other institutions to spur productivity and cut overpayments to private insurers that are not delivering value for Medicare dollars. It used that money to expand coverage to 32 million Americans — many of whom were receiving uncompensated care at these institutions — to extend the life of the Medicare program and invest in new demonstration projects that aim to encourage providers to deliver quality care more efficiently.”
For that matter, it’s odd that Ryan finds these cuts so problematic, since his own budget plan keeps those alleged cuts in place. If Ryan believes this ends Medicare as we know it, why did he include those cuts in own proposal?
Second, Ryan said the cuts weren’t about solvency, but were redirected to another program. That’s half-true and half-ironic. By making these cuts, Democrats extended Medicare solvency by nearly a decade — a detail Ryan prefers to ignore. But just as important, it’s Ryan who intends to privatize Medicare out of existence, not to make it more solvent, but to spend the money on tax cuts for the wealthy.
Third, Ryan may find a payment advisory board offensive now, but just two years ago, Ryan personally sponsored legislation that would have created a very similar board to control health care spending.
And finally, I can’t be the only one who finds it hilarious to hear Paul Ryan whine incessantly about “scare” tactics while, at the exact same time, also whine incessantly that Democrats are trying to end Medicare while forcing bureaucrats to ration care for seniors.
Anyone who considers Paul Ryan a bright, honest policy wonk just isn’t paying close enough attention.