As reported by the Associated Press, the Paul Ryan Medicare scheme in which Republicans would at least partially privatize the United States Medicare program is beginning to gather steam again. Ryan has always been a proponent of privatizing Medicare but previously lacked support to make it happen. It seems clear that he feels the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House is the perfect moment to try again.
Medicare And Paul Ryan
Medicare — it’s generally acknowledged — has worked successfully for decades in the United States. It’s helped to ensure that seniors and the disabled across the country have been able to get timely, cost-effective care when they needed it most. It also ensures that their medication and drug costs are minimized as well.
There have occasionally been points where some politicians — principally Republicans — have claimed that the system was on the verge of going broke. But Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act — as noted by CNN — helped to save the Medicare system and extended its life by at least a decade.
Weird that people who virtue signaled WWC empathy never communicated to them Trump would take their insurance away. https://t.co/qhjC8wzKYx— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) November 29, 2016
Of course, Republicans, in general, are not happy with Obamacare itself. This, in turn, makes them extremely unwilling to acknowledge the fact that — thanks to Obamacare — Medicare is hardly on its last legs anymore. This reticence to acknowledge the effectiveness and vitality of Medicare extends to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
Paul Ryan Medicare Changes
Under his proposed plan for scrapping the current Medicare system, the Associated Press reports Ryan would create a voucher system alternative — surprisingly similar to Obamacare in some ways — under which seniors would be given vouchers to obtain their healthcare insurance from the private sector.
This plan would go fully into effect eight years from now in 2024. While there would — technically — still be a public version of Medicare in the Paul Ryan Medicare plan, this new approach might undermine it to the point that it is unviable. And there are many other potential problems with such an approach.
Typical 65 y/o retiring in 2022, under Ryan's plan will pay double what they would under traditional Medicare. And it gets worse https://t.co/ujTRcMj5dO— Karl Snyder (@nyawkino) November 28, 2016
For one thing, it shifts the responsibility for navigating this complex new system onto the seniors themselves. This means that seniors – many of whom may have diminished capacity – might be forced to choose from the various healthcare plans offered by private companies, such as with the silver, gold or platinum plans currently provided through Obamacare.
To many critics of the Paul Ryan Medicare plan, there’s no reason to fix a system that isn’t actually broken. Further, Ryan’s assumption that shifting as many people as possible from Medicare into his privatized healthcare alternative will actually save money is questionable.
All the evidence is actually to the contrary. Studies have shown that Medicare pays less for healthcare than do most private healthcare companies. Plus, Obamacare itself serves as an example of how medical costs can be brought down by a government managed program. Healthcare costs come down with more government involvement and control, rather than less.
CBO: private health insurance subsidies would actually be far more costly than simply continuing Medicare as is https://t.co/gRL2EMOoxM— Randy Prine (@randyprine) November 29, 2016
Donald Trump And Paul Ryan
Medicare is something Donald Trump has previously claimed that he would never touch, but it’s an open question how vigorously he would oppose efforts by other Republicans in the House and Senate to privatize the program. Given Trump’s opposition to government regulation in general, it’s difficult to believe he wouldn’t embrace the idea of privatizing senior healthcare insurance in the United States.
Bait and switch: Trump's team looks likely to kill Medicare as we know it, Paul Krugman wrote on Nov. 18. https://t.co/LRWcWrUKYv— NYT Opinion (@nytopinion) November 29, 2016
In fact, find a source reports that Donald Trump’s postelection plans for Medicare talk about “modernizing it” with the assistance of the Congress. This certainly implies that Donald Trump might be open to the Ryan plan – even though he apparently despises Ryan personally.
While the new Paul Ryan Medicare scheme will take years to implement fully, it will — along with the elimination of Obamacare — radically change the cost and quality of the healthcare that Americans can expect to receive. While Democrats will most likely attempt to oppose such changes, given that the Republicans control every branch of government, their chances of successfully blocking Ryan’s effort are fairly slim.
[Featured Image by Zach Gibson/Getty Images]