You have to hand it to House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan. Having his head handed to him by the public for his initial attempt to eviscerate Medicare hasn’t fazed him in the least. He’s at it again, this time blaming our economic troubles on health care reform. He begins his thesis accurately enough, stating that unless something is done, the rising costs of health care will eventually bankrupt the country. So far, he and Obama agree. From there, he does a deft bait and switch, attacking the primary provision of the new health care law that actually will control costs, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a panel created to help reign in Medicare spending.
Ryan claims that “it relies on a plan to control costs in Medicare that would give a board of 15 unelected bureaucrats in Washington the power to deeply ration care.” Oh, no, not the dreaded unelected board of bureaucrats! In other words, we don’t want health care experts to actually examine medical data and determine which drugs and procedures are effective and which are not. we don’t want doctors to have the scientific tools to prescribe the most effective treatments. What does Mr. Ryan think should be the alternative–an elected board? One made up of politicians beholden to drug company and medical manufacturer lobbyists for their election campaign funds? Fine idea, that. And then there’s the old rationing boogeyman, as if refusing to pay for useless drugs and ineffective treatments is a bad thing, and as if the current system doesn’t already ration care in the cruelest way possible, by income. Ryan’s solution? “Our plan is to give seniors the power to deny business to inefficient providers.” In other words, give seniors on Medicare a voucher and let them make medical decisions themselves, based on their thorough scientific knowledge of which treatments are necessary and which are not. The sick, the sacred, those suffering dementia will surely make the right choices, especially when their vouchers turn out to be insufficient to pay for the more expensive care. Power to the people.
The alternative, changing the Medicare system to one that controls costs by holding doctors, drug companies and medical suppliers accountable, one that pays to keep people healthy rather than paying for unnecessary care, is unacceptable to Ryan. That would be government control of health care. No, the free market is doing such a good job of controlling costs and covering everyone, why on earth would we want the government to interfere? Let’s just give the people a voucher and wish them luck.