After Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan, one of the first major talking points the media and campaign jumped on was Ryan’s proposed budget in solving the deficit problem faced by the federal government.
Quickly at issue were both sides’ ideas for saving Medicare. On this tried and true battleground, the Republican Party chose to go on the offensive, and lashed out at President Obama’s streamlining of the program. Insisting that he had cut services to the tune of $700 billion dollars and had weakened the ability of Medicare to provide services to seniors in a campaign stop in Florida, Ryan promised to return the “lost” benefits if a Romney/Ryan victory were achieved.
Of course, as with many political rallies this election cycle, the truth is obscured by the partisan rhetoric of the campaign trial.
Paul Ryan asserts that President Obama has taken $700 billion from Medicare. Where he’s correct is that during writing of the ACA and Medicare reform, money was removed from one part of the Medicare operating budget and moved to another area of the budget to shore up new coverage for seniors. As Jamelle Bouie of The Washington Post lays out adroitly that “in crafting Medicare… this “cut” has benefitted the program.”
Paul Ryan has simply chosen to prey on the fears of the electorate by framing these changes as cuts. His claims about new taxes aimed at the middle class are equally disingenuous.
The Mitt Romney approved Ryan budget instead proposes a subsidized, privatized voucher system to combat the challenges faced with the demographic swing. This voucher system would cover the two cheapest plans on the market, thus providing Americans with a choice provided by competition in the free market. There are no guarantees of services, and little ability to combat the inflation present in the medical field. You would still have access to the traditional system, but a privatized voucher system is the core of Ryan’s proposed change to Medicare.
Unfortunately, as the value of voucher is set to scale only with the inflation in pricing, and not taking into account the advent of newer cutting edge techniques which carry a higher cost burden and the inflexibility of the free market on some services which are in high demand, this leads to a debate over how much cost would be passed to the dependent. Some estimate it could be as high as $6400, but without more specifics from Ryan, it is impossible to calculate.
Politifact wrote that “the absence of data means that analyzing the impact of the new Ryan plan is speculative.”
While Ryan’s demagoguery of the Obama plan may seem compelling to the uninformed, the truth remains that Medicare is growing more expensive either way. America is currently undergoing a societal demographic shift shared by many other developed countries. The population is aging as a group and more become eligible for Medicare.
This is leading to a flip in the contributor/dependent model. Regardless of which party is in power or plan used, the cost of Medicare will continue to rise unless a change in methodology for funding is addressed. Understanding that is critical to understanding the difference between President Obama’s ideas and the Romney-sponsored Ryan Medicare funding budget. Both sides talk about wanting to save Medicare, but which one do you believe. President Obama’s plan attempts to control these costs by addressing problems before they occur with preventative treatment and streamlining.
The Romney-Ryan plan simply throws vouchers at the problem and prays that the free market resolves the growing issue of medical costs in the country with no guarantee for future generations. Whether Medicare remains a universal safeguard for our senior citizens or becomes a privatized entity less beholden to the taxpayer is the crux of the debate.