Healthcare Debate Simplified

With Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate, you are about to hear the volume turned up to a fever pitch on the left with fallacious claims that Mr. Ryan wants to cut Medicare to the bone and force seniors to perform in-home surgery on their tumors with a butter knife. Don’t believe it.

As I was reading a piece about Mr. Ryan this morning, it occurred to me that it’s likely that many voters simply find the healthcare issue too dauntingly complicated to even begin to sort it out. They’re right. It is complicated. No sane person would try to fully understand it. But, it turns out, there are a few clear facts and one very clear difference between two visions of the future  of healthcare that most of us can understand. The nomination of Mr. Ryan makes the choice more clear.

Here goes. Let’s start with a few key indisputable facts.

  1. The federal budget is a mess and something needs to be done about it.
  2. “Doing something about it” without addressing healthcare is folly. As Joseph Rago said in a recent WSJ op-ed piece, “You can’t fix the federal balance sheet by zeroing out foreign aid to Mozambique and arts funding for off-off-off Broadway plays.”
  3. Healthcare costs in the United States are unsustainable as they take over the federal fisc.
  4. Any attempt to manage healthcare costs HAS to address Medicare costs. Anyone who says different is lying. Obamacare makes massive cuts to Medicare (where is the liberal media outrage on that).

So, the key question is how the cuts to Medicare will be made and, more important, who will make the decisions? Here’s where the big contrast comes in.

The Obamacare vision for who makes those decisions is an unelected “panel of expert” who will ration care as costs escalate and we move to a single payer system. The Paul Ryan vision has consumers of healthcare like you and me and, importantly, our parents and grandparents making those decisions for themselves. I realize I have had to dramatically simplify things, but when you boil it down, this is the decision you’re making at the polls in November. Two very different visions for reining in healthcare costs. Government making decisions for you or you making decisions for yourself.

About Bruce Robertson

Bruce Robertson is an amateur writer and professional provocateur
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2 Responses to Healthcare Debate Simplified

  1. BlueLoom says:

    Your point #4:
    “Any attempt to manage healthcare costs HAS to address Medicare costs. Anyone who says different is lying. Obamacare makes massive cuts to Medicare (where is the liberal media outrage on that).”

    I try not to comment on your political postings b/c I’m a lousy debater (though I do enjoy reading your conversations with Dan) and don’t really like to mix it up in political discussions. But your point #4 cries out for correction. The Affordable Care Act (its real name) makes cuts IN THE RATE OF GROWTH of Medicare. The Ryan budget does the same thing. There is no argument between the two sides on this.

    As I understand it, the principal difference between the two plans for the future of M’care is that the Affordable Care Act would continue M’care as a govt supported insurance program (please note that word “supported”; we M’care users pay premiums every month–it’s not free) and Mr. Ryan’s concept would turn M’care into a premium support-program (aka “vouchers”) under which eligible older people could use their vouchers to pay for any health insurance they can find. (Or maybe there will be a list of insurers from which to choose; I’m not clear on that point.)

    Which of these proposals would best suit health care for the elderly as the huge baby boom generation moves into eligibility is a legitimate conversation that those of you under age 55 should have. It’s how you think your health care program should be handled when you hit age 65 (or 67, if the age of eligibility is raised). Mr. Ryan’s premium support program would not affect current M’care users. It’s your future, not ours.

    • OK, I guess I stand corrected on the cuts vs. slowing of spending of Medicare. But that’s kind of like correcting an umpire who just called a strike on a fastball that was an inch off the plate. Technically you are correct, but everybody does it. For as long as we’ve had federal deficit problems, all politicians have referred to cuts in projected growth as “cuts in spending.” As a mathematical purest, I would love nothing more to have everyone stop doing that and refer to something as a “cut” only when next year’s spending is less than this year’s spending. I will sign up for that change in semantics just as soon as you can convince all the politicians to go along. Parenthetically, I think this will end badly for democrats.

      On the difference between the Obamacare and Ryancare visions for Medicare, you nailed it perfectly. Obamacare, notwithstanding its preposterous claims to “bend the cost curve,” will just continue the same out of control approach to Medicare spending. As private payors exit the market, the government will end up running everything. The costs will continue to escalate until the crisis finally hits and then the “panel of experts” will decide what healthcare is worth paying for (and buying) and which isn’t. As you say, Ryan’s vision is to provide premium support, but then let consumers decide what’s worth paying for and what’s not. You’re also right that our generation is deciding this for ourselves. To me, the decision is easy. I don’t want unelected bureaucrats making my healthcare decisions for me. I’d like to make them myself, with the help of my doctor.

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