Paul Ryan's "fundamentally immoral" plan to privatize Medicare

From The Economist:

Mr Ryan’s plan ends the guarantee that all American seniors will have health insurance. The Medicare system we’ve had in place for the past 45 years promises that once you reach 65, you will be covered by a government-financed health-insurance plan. Mr Ryan’s plan promises that once you reach 65, you will receive a voucher for an amount that he thinks ought to be enough for individuals to purchase a private health-insurance plan. … If that voucher isn’t worth enough for some particular senior to buy insurance, and that particular senior isn’t wealthy enough to top off the coverage, or is a bit forgetful and neglects to purchase insurance, there’s no guarantee that that person will be insured. It’s up to you; you carry the risk.

Mr Ryan thinks this is a good thing, because individuals who are responsible for paying for their own health insurance will be strongly motivated to seek better insurance at a lower price. I think this is a terrible thing, because the mechanism Mr Ryan is using to incentivise people to seek better coverage for the price is to expose them to the risk that they will suffer from disease for which their insurance doesn’t cover them. The threat that you will suffer illness with inadequate treatment because you can’t afford it and your insurance doesn’t cover it is certainly a pretty strong motivator for most people to seek better insurance. But the purpose of insurance is to insulate people from risks like that. …

… Mr Ryan’s proposal to privatise and voucherise Medicare attempts to reintroduce the incentive to cut costs by dumping that risk back onto individual seniors. And the greatest risks will fall on the poorest, sickest, or least savvy elderly; they will be the ones most at risk of going uncovered. I agree with Mr Ryan that the government needs to limit taxpayers’ exposure to Medicare cost inflation. I think this plan is a fundamentally immoral way to do it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    Mr Ryan thinks this is a good thing, because individuals who are responsible for paying for their own health insurance will be strongly motivated to seek better insurance at a lower price.

    That’s nice. Where is the motivation for insurance companies to provide such a thing?

    Why does anyone think that giving out vouchers is going to cost the government less than simply providing the coverage itself?

  • PJ Evans

    hapax, I’m ticked off enough that when I get mailers from the DNC (or other allegedly Democratic groups), asking me for money, I return them with a note that they’ll get money from me when they’re actual Democrats again, and not Reagan Republicans.

    I’m looking for an honestly left/progressive/socialist party to join, because I’d really like to have a choice between ‘right of center’ and ‘falling off the cliff’.

  • http://guy-who-reads.blogspot.com/ Mike Timonin

    I’m looking for an honestly left/progressive/socialist party to join, because I’d really like to have a choice between ‘right of center’ and ‘falling off the cliff’.

    You could take a look at the Greens; they don’t suck. Here in NY, the won enough votes to be on the ballot in the next round of elections, and to get public financing.

    (I’m a big fan of public financing of campaigns. I think it should be mandatory – no more fund raising, no more spending your own cash, all candidates start out even. Short of that, the Arizona system is not bad – the state government will kick in funds to match any private funds your opponent might bring to bear. Rich folks complain this limits their speech, to which I say, too bad, so sad.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=752002772 Andrew Glasgow

    Because… invisible hand… market forces… consumer incentive… look a puppy! *runs away*

  • Anonymous

    “I hope that Ryan never has to get old.”

    Screw that! I hope that, should his travesty of a budget ever become law, he lives long enough to see his own spawn (and grand-spawn) fully suffer it’s effects and curse his (and their) very name! If he’s so determined to ruin the lives of people who have no resources — and no recourse to change their circumstance — due to this legislative atrocity, then his kids and grandkids should have to suffer as well. I fully realize that my position may sound un-Christian and vindictive, but Ryan’s bill is just as un-Christian and vindictive; so I make absolutely no apologies.

  • Lori

    Why does anyone think that giving out vouchers is going to cost the government less than simply providing the coverage itself?

    Ryan doesn’t think his bill will save money, he knows it will. It’s built into the plan. Over time the amount of the vouchers will decrease, thus the government will save money. Anyone who can’t afford to cover the difference between the voucher they receive and the actual cost of their private insurance will, of course, be screwed, but the government will save money so it’s all good.

  • Magpie

    When the Australian government gave vouchers towards private health insurance, the premiums went up by the value of the vouchers.

  • Brad

    “However, I don’t think the blame can entirely be placed on the rich. Using the cookie analogy, the cookie-scarfing CEO is scum. However the Tea Partier who watches the CEO eat the 11 cookies and then starts beating on the union guy to get the 12th cookie is not a wholly innocent victim.”

    It could be that at some level the Tea Partier knows the rich guy is taking more than his share, but he figures the union guy is an easier target – less likely to sue.

  • Anonymous

    thank you.

    and i don’t know – what i DO know, is all the Republicans were voted in to fix the “economic problems” [that REPUBLICANS caused! it's like people literally cannot REMEMBER that this started under Bush II, and that HE'S the one who did the huge bailouts of banks and etc...] are NOT trying to fix the economy – they are A) attacking women and B) trying to destroy what’s left of worker’s rights.

    which makes me even MORE terrified.

    i really REALLY want to move, preferably to somewhere in Scandanavia. but i can’t – i’m totally disabled, who’d take me?

  • Art

    As a reality check, Mr. Ryan could become a “mystery shopper”, armed with the statistically highest maladies and see just what the cost of those maladies are without any of the discounts, doctor samples, etc. That should provide a basis for where to start with his stupid vouchers. BTW the retail industry has a voucher system too- it’s called maintainence agreements. the best news on those things are that a grossly large percentage of the population never exercises them. Bottom line profit AND unspent resources all at once.But wait- we are not lawn mowers, we are people, citizens, members of the commonwealth.

  • Hawker40

    Amazingly enough, that seems to happen whenever the government passes out vouchers.
    School vouchers? Private schools raise thier rates by the value of the vouchers.
    Health? Insurance raises thier rates.
    It’s almost as if it’s a intentional transfer of government funds to private industries…

  • http://mistharm.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    I forget who coined it, but I really like the term “Kleptocracy” for our current state of affairs.

  • Anonymous

    The only problem is that when those people have to stop working because of health conditions that they can’t afford to treat or prevent, they won’t be paying income taxes to the government. So the government would save money, but also lose revenue. But Republicans like to pretend that taxes serve no purpose other than to punish people, so they can’t admit that money coming in matters as much as money going out.

  • Lori

    Yeah. It’s not in Ryan’s best interests to call attention to the logical outcomes of his plan. If he does that people will see that this “serious” budget proposal is just another transfer of money from the poor to the rich. Can’t have that.

  • Anonymous

    I suppose I shouldn’t be, but I am gobsmacked to find out that there are other Moxy Früvous fans here.

    ::guilty face:: Really all I know about them is what Pandora serves up on my TMBG channel, which tends to be King of Spain.

    I intend to look into getting some albums, but that list of CDs I intend to pick up is fairly large and it may take a while.

  • Anonymous

    Hah, that’s how I learned of them, so no worries.

    I suppose I shouldn’t be as surprised as I was, since many of their songs have a very…Slacktivist view to them. (“Big Fish” and “Greatest Man in America”, for example, are pretty strong critiques of American far-right-authoritarianism).

    I also like them for all the Canada references. I mean, it makes sense, they’re a Canadian band, but in “My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors” every one they name is, IIRC, a Canadian, and that’s just not something I’m used to in music.

    They don’t make it into my top three (Great Big Sea, Barenaked Ladies, TMBG)*, but they’re definitely up there.

    *Huh, just realized that 2/3rds of my top 3 are likewise Canadian. Weird, since their being Canadian isn’t why I listen to ‘em.

  • Michael Cule

    [COMMANDER_MONTCOMERY_SCOTT] A privatised, voucherised health system? How…quaint! [/COMMANDER_MONTGOMERY_SCOTT]

  • Daughter

    Thanks for the links, Lori!

  • Syfr

    So I could make you all jealous by telling you that I have seen Moxy Fruvous in concert several times?

    -syfr (login is weird)

  • Bryan Feir

    @Syfr:
    Not I, because I have as well. Their concerts are where I first ran into Tory Cassis, too.

    @GDwarf:
    Well, ‘Big Fish’ was about Mike Harris, aka ‘Mike the Knife’… the man who left the provincial government billions of dollars in debt in part by ‘balancing the budget’ using the sales of government-owned buildings as income… and then not selling them. And then using the same buildings as potential income the next year. It took forensic audits after the next government came into power to discover just how bad it was.

    As far as their political leanings are concerned, it’s worth noting that one of their special guests at one of the concerts I was at was Dr. Henry Morgentaler. For those not familiar with him, he’s been one of the strongest campaigners for reproductive rights in Canada; R. v. Morgentaler is effectively Canada’s version of Roe v. Wade.

    Oh, and given you like Great Big Sea as well, it’s worth noting that one of the founding members of Moxy Früvous, Murray Foster, toured with Great Big Sea after Moxy Früvous broke up.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    @Mike Timonin: No big argument here. The extent to which the Money has utterly distorted politics in this country is hard to comprehend.

  • Anonymous

    another thing -

    Like Social Security, Medicaid/Medicare is something *WE* pay for, directly – it’s listed as a separate deduction, there’s a deduction for “Taxes:Federal”, “Taxes:State”, “Taxes:Local”, “Social Security”, and “Medicaid/Medicare”

    so it’s NOT a freaking “government funded” program – but the LIE is backed by the fact that, for DECADES, the goverment has been STEALING from those funds to pay for other things [mostly "defense" things]

    but someone who has a platform REALLY needs to start YELLING about it – how they’re not talking about cuts from things funded “by the government” but rather things “funded DIRECTLY BY THE PEOPLE”

  • Anonymous

    another thing -

    Like Social Security, Medicaid/Medicare is something *WE* pay for, directly – it’s listed as a separate deduction, there’s a deduction for “Taxes:Federal”, “Taxes:State”, “Taxes:Local”, “Social Security”, and “Medicaid/Medicare”

    so it’s NOT a freaking “government funded” program – but the LIE is backed by the fact that, for DECADES, the goverment has been STEALING from those funds to pay for other things [mostly "defense" things]

    but someone who has a platform REALLY needs to start YELLING about it – how they’re not talking about cuts from things funded “by the government” but rather things “funded DIRECTLY BY THE PEOPLE”

  • PJ Evans

    It goes back farther than that. Reagan was the first president I remember pushing the ‘taxes are bad, deregulation is good’ idea, along with ‘trickle-down economics’. Those ideas didn’t work any better then than they do now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=679485013 Brad Raley

    A really key point. This is telling the elderly to go get their own insurance while telling the insurance companies that they don’t have to cover anyone they don’t want to.

  • Freedom-Fighter

    >In other words, almost all Americans now have someone they know and love who would be adversely harmed by Republican policies. Yet people keep supporting them. Why?????

    Because they’ve seen years of government “solutions”, and they realize government is incapable of fixing all their problems.

  • PJ Evans

    Nothing is capable of fixing all their problems, but government is the best method we have of fixing problems that are bigger than one person, and most of us recognize that.

    It would, however, be nice if politicians would stop promising things they have no intention of delivering, as well as things they can’t deliver.

  • tarir

    Correct!

  • tarir

    Correct!

  • tarir

    Anyone under 55 they won’t be rich for long paying $20,000 + per year….it will be a matter of buying your end of life years. And of course, not many people can do that so they haven’t talked about what happens then. I am imagining a different American than today. Class wars and ageism. I am pretty disgusted with Ryan’s plan….buying votes from those 55 and older and saying sorry to the rest of us. I have paid FICA for 38 years and I am shown the door (I am 54).


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