Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., last week proposed a dramatic change to nudge us closer to market-based health care’s inherent economic freedom and away from Nanny State entitlements’ inevitable bankruptcy. We will continue to argue for market solutions to America’s health care dilemma, but we find much to admire in Ryan’s proposal. We hope Congress and the president will too. We believe the public would, if given the full story.
The harsh reality is that, without something akin to Ryan’s reform, Medicare spending is on course to double in the next decade, require every tax bracket to double to pay for its increasing costs and double as a share of the economy by 2050. Unless Medicare spending is curbed, it will implode and take the economy with it, leaving millions without any health benefits. To delay reform is to insure disaster.
A key component of Ryan’s budget-cutting proposals unveiled in Congress would transform Medicare, the government entitlement program for people 65 and older that uses taxpayer money to pay for every doctor visit and medical service a patient needs. It would be replaced by subsidizing with taxpayer money older people’s purchase of health insurance from private insurers.
Ryan’s plan offers a semblance of market sanity to replace entitlement insanity. Integral to his reform would be repeal of Obamacare, the government’s disastrous take-over of virtually the entire health care industry. Among Obamacare’s dire consequences will be eventual rationing of medical services under Medicare because in the real world there just aren’t enough taxpayer dollars for the government to pay for every perceived patient need.
The advantage of Ryan’s system is that limited taxpayer money would subsidize purchase of private insurance. Dubbed “premium support,” subsidies are estimated at about $15,000 a year, with poorer and sicker recipients receiving more. If subsidies don’t cover all costs, seniors would pay the difference, including for additional coverage they may desire. We agree with Ryan that people shop more wisely when they spend their own money, and the result should be downward pressure on prices in a competitive market.
The Ryan reform would apply only to people 55 years of age and younger today, once they turn 65. Older persons will remain under Medicare. Subsidies would increase based on inflation, but not the higher rate of health care inflation.
Ryan’s reform deserves a chance, otherwise the nation can await the entitlement system’s certain collapse.