Today Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, released a new budget that would reduce spending growth as projected by the Obama budget by $5.3 trillion. A lot of that cost reduction comes from a re-working of Medicare.
Here’s how James Pethokoukis describes the changes:
Where Obamacare relies on unelected bureaucrats to keep costs down, the Ryan path uses competition. Under Ryan’s revised “premium support” plan—essentially the Wyden-Ryan proposal—seniors beginning in 2023 could use their Medicare dollars to choose from a menu of private plans, along with Medicare’s traditional fee-for-service system. Every year there would be a competitive bidding process among all plans to determine the dollar amount of the federal contribution that seniors would use to purchase coverage. (The benefits in the private plans would have to be as least as good as Medicare.) The second least-expensive approved plan, or Medicare, whichever is least expensive, would establish the benchmark that determines the premium support amount.
Seniors who prefer pricier plans would have to pay the difference between the premium subsidy and the monthly premium. Seniors who choose a less expensive plan could pocket the difference. As a backup—and so CBO could score the plan—per capita costs could not exceed nominal GDP growth plus 0.5%.
In short, what seniors get is more choice. Rather than being enrolled in a monolithic health care entitlement program, they’ll be able to take their allotment of those entitlement dollars and choose from among several plans with providers competing with one another for their business. What this means would be better service and lower costs.
But according to North Dakota Democrat House candidate Pam Gulleson, this is a war on seniors or something:
Gulleson said Ryan’s budget would end seniors’ guaranteed access to such entitlement programs that they depend on.
“As a nation, our goal must be to get our unacceptable deficit under control, and that means cutting spending. But it is wrong to do so on the backs of our seniors and middle-class families,” Gulleson said in a statement this morning. “The scheme that Rep. Ryan is proposing – and that Rep. Rick Berg has supported – would end the Medicare guarantee and shift substantial costs onto seniors.”
“That’s not the North Dakota Way,” Gulleson said, referencing Berg’s oft-used slogan. “I call on my Republican opponents to stand with me in publicly opposing this plan as bad for our state. … When I’m in Washington, I’ll vote to protect the Medicare guarantee and stand up for our seniors.”
This isn’t accurate. Seniors would have the same access to Medicare they have now. The difference would be in how they’re served by Medicare. Instead of the status quo, which is a one-size-fits-all program, there will be choices that bring them more value.
I know our Democrat friends like Gulleson like to perpetuate a fairy tale land where America’s entitlement programs aren’t a problem, but unfortunately we live in the real world, and we can’t afford this sort of scare-mongering politics that sacrifice real solutions on the altar of retail politics.
Between Gulleson opposing common sense entitlement reform, and Heidi Heitkamp wanting a balanced budget amendment that would only balance less than a third of the budget, you have to wonder if either of them really want to address the nation’s politics or if they just want to get elected using the same tired old political tropes that candidates have been trotting out for generations.