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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Paul Ryan Wants to Save Money by Cutting Medicare, Change Is of Less Importance

Paul Ryan Wants to Save Money by Cutting Medicare, Change Is of Less Importance

Friday, 11 October 2013 07:10

The NYT is doing cover up work for Paul Ryan telling readers about his plan for:

"a debt ceiling increase tied to changes to Medicare and Medigap plans that would save more than enough money to ease some of the across-the-board cuts to domestic and defense programs ..."

Ryan is not going to save money from changing Medicare, he will save public dollars by cutting Medicare. In other words, Ryan wants seniors to pay more money for their health care. It's very polite of the NYT to assist Ryan in pushing his agenda by attempting to conceal its impact, but what happened to the old days when newspapers were about informing readers.

Under the Ryan's proposals, seniors will pay more money out of pocket because Medicare benefits will be cut. That shouldn't be too hard for a NYT article to print. Ryan can defend his proposed cuts by arguing that other priorities are more important, but people should understand what is at stake.

Comments (14)Add Comment
Ryan's zombie plan...
written by Reaganraisedtaxes, October 11, 2013 9:02
...for Medicare is the one repudiated last November. What's breathtaking is how dismissive big money is of elections and the American people.
But who hasn't failed in health reporting? Who is honest about excess prices?
written by Rachel, October 11, 2013 9:48

One reason that the ACA is so bad, so regressive, is the complete failure of the media to account for why US health care costs twice as much as it should. Because some people don't get enough primary care? Sounds good, and Charlie Rangel likes it. But in fact it's way down the list. Just because of insurance companies? That's the one the self-interested doctors like, but even that doesn't make it to the top. Excess compensation, starting with overpaid doctors (and in some cases nurses, in part because there are so many of them) that is the number one reason. Overuse of overpriced technology is a big reason too.

But it seems to take a rare combination of knowledge, integrity and compassion for a public figure to be aware of what is going on and be willing to state it publicly. These qualities being rare, we are left instead with such ugly alternatives as the ACA and whatever quick tricks Ryan can come up with.
written by Bruce MacKenzie, October 11, 2013 11:13
Essentially, Ryan wants to accept Obama's past offer in the 2011 Grand Bargain, which is still very much a goal of this Democratic administration. Cuts to Medicare and Medigap will make it look more like an "insurance" program and less like a healthcare program, raising the co-pays and deductibles beyond the reach of the elderly participants, saving even more money by letting them go without medical care -- which is the way private insurance already works and the way ACA works. It's all very sad and all happening with little enlightened comment from the mainstream press.
written by James, October 11, 2013 2:24
"You say what you mean."

Politicians and all media glowingly use the word "cut" when talk about slashing the budget, spending, etc.

They will use the words/phrases "change," "modification," and "ensure long term viablity of the program or plan" when talk about cutting SS and Medicare benefits.

Of course, this is not accidental bc even if you try to use the choosen words, you will slip up time to time. But for these folks, they don't bc they are such men of no integrity.
Premature Death by Wallet or Premature Death by Panel is Still Premature Death
written by Last Mover, October 11, 2013 2:30

The strange competing juxtaposition of two ways people can die prematurely in America from their own health care system continues.

One side led by Paul Ryan and company says it's from death panels of socialized health care (along with jobs killed in the economy of course). The other side not led by anyone in particular says it's from lack of affordable access to health care.

One kind of death is by the wallet, the other a death by rationing, the latter an intervention into gross inefficiency to decide what medical procedures are worthy of due payments necessary from government to sustain them.

As a champion of rugged individualism and free markets, Paul Ryan has no problem with death by wallet because it is a just and honorable death, a consequence of personal choices among least cost alternatives available in private markets.

Never mind that the choices are not made from least cost alternatives at all, made instead from a private health care market fraught with market failures of moral hazard third party insurers and physicians, combined with overwhelming market power that destroys competition in the cradle before it ever has a chance.

But for Paul Ryan, they are still choices and they are still free. That they are priced twice that of other developed nations on average and cause in effect, substantial deaths by wallet that far exceed any so called deaths by a panel who rations health care because it must be rationed when a private market fails completely to ration it efficiently by price.

That's why before the ACA, no one had any idea of what the price was until after the fact, when the list of obscene prices from insurers and providers in the private market looked like a demand for an extortion payment from a local mob.

Wake up America. Freedom is not free. Paul Ryan is not finished. The socially rationed death panels of clean air, highways and, police and fire services are next on the list to be cut and shifted to the private sector.

So you can pay twice the price to get half as much. To be free from non-price rationing that replaces prices that can't ration.
written by nineteen50, October 11, 2013 4:37
PAul Ryan should institute a transaction tax on wall street where war profits are made and pay for the wars and military needs to protect corporate interests around the word from that tax and leave social services alone.
Paul Ryan could really help get the ball rolling
written by Bill Drake, October 11, 2013 5:36
Representative Ryan ( representing who, by the way) could get this ball rolling by giving up his taxpayer-funded congressional health insurance and buying it out of his own pocket - which of course is full of taxpayer money anyway, paid to him to "represent" somebody. Of course this would never occur to him, since he is simply a hypocrite (the most polite term I can come up with) like 99.9% of those inside the beltway.
You're making the incorrect assumption that HC costs are fixed, Low-rated comment [Show]
To various-Fixed Cost of Medicare
written by JMarco, October 11, 2013 10:52
Well, I sure you have verified all the waste and reported to Medicare Admin. or where you just told that? As someone who uses medicare, it provides affordable care. I pay premiums (combined $330/mo)for that coverage. Medicare admin cost are much better than private insurance co. adm. cost. And if Republicans had allowed Medicare Plan D (drugs) to be purchased at bulk prices as Gov. does for VA dept. those medicare cost would significantly lower.
Don't forget the cheer leading for fast tracking tax 'reform'
written by JaaaaayCeeeee, October 11, 2013 11:09
Anybody else tired of MSM promoting Ryan's offer to fast track revenue neutral tax changes, as though it's negotiating?

MSM reported favorably today a Republican offer to pause, for 90 days, their world wide economic bomb countdown (default).

Another Republican offer today was to temporarily, for 5 months, drain the gasoline from the necklacing that's still burning down our economy (shutdown plus sequestration). Reported as progress, ugh.

In fact this vandalism is reported as progress in the debt debate, ugh. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10...te.html?hp

Progress would be MSM reporting what the effects would be if Congress did its job of regular order budget legislation, with no hiding behind fast tracking thievery, either.
written by watermelonpunch, October 12, 2013 2:16
written by Various, October 11, 2013 8:41
By shifting a larger percentage of payment to the recipients of the care, this would likely drive down utilization and/or prices per procedure, with probably only a nominal decrease in the quality of care.


Lessening utilization is often about reducing needed care, and could sometimes wind up costing more in the long run, clearly. Talk about waste.

I can only assume someone who wants to reduce health care costs by reducing utilization, is okay with serious decreases in our already inferior health care in the U.S. for the most disadvantaged citizens, and the most vulnerable of the elders of our society.

Maybe consultants and bankers just see these as numbers being reduced, and moved around.

If you want to reduce waste, something should be done to reduce the health care industry's waste, agreed.
The answer is not to send grandmas to suffer & die because they can't afford excessive copays.
written by jamzo, October 12, 2013 8:37
very little is said about the anti-democratic maneuvering by boehner et al....being unable to advance their goals through the legislative means the they are empowered to pursue, they abrogate their role and engage in extortion...
HCR - Tax consequences
written by Marta, October 13, 2013 8:13
Nobody in the media or elsewhere seems to be addressing the fact that the IRS put out new rules on September 13, 2013 where they took away the tax deduction for small group, self-employed and individual health insurance effective 1/1/14. All premiums and expenses are now to be paid with post-tax dollars making health insurance even less affordable than it is now.

Nobody is connecting the dots that the ACA was never about helping the uninsured, most of whom cannot afford the huge hike in health insurance premiums anyway under ACA. No, it's about gutting Employer Paid Health Insurance and taking away the tax deductible status of health insurance from about millions who get health insurance as part of their employment. They never said anything about taking away our tax deduction, they said we could keep our current coverage. Bunch of lies, through and through in the passing of this legislation.

This is a massive tax hike AND pay cut on middle class americans.
written by Various, October 13, 2013 10:12
Why yes, I can give many examples of overutilization. Let's see, there was the time I was at the hospital with my mom and went to get something at the pharmacy. I came back to the Drs office and no mom. They had wheeled her down to radiology for some extensive x-rays on her hip. Problem was that they had taken the same x-rays a month prior. My mom was rather fragile, so loading her onto and off the x-ray table was just going to bang her up, so I ran down to radiology and intercepted her before she went on the table. The point is that you'd think that the Dr. would have checked her records to see what the notes said....right? Wrong. X-rays are covered under Medicare Part B, which is priced on a fee schedule. As long as the Dr. orders the radiology, it gets paid. This is just one example. I could also give you examples of entire companies that I banked that existed because of their successful lobbing efforts to either get their procedures approved by HCFA, or lobbied for higher reimbursement. I could fill a book with examples. My point is that Medicare has a centralized price setting arrangement with little controls over utilization. As a result, both prices and utilization are higher than they would otherwise be. I don't think this is much different that what you see with military expenditures for equipment, except that the $2 billion price tag per B-2 Bomber or the $10 billion price for the latest aircraft carrier are rather hard to hide. In the medical sector, the runaway costs are due to thousands if not millions of smaller instances of over utilization and high costs per procedure or per item. I'm not saying that this is the case with every procedure or every item. Absolutely not. But with a centralized system such as Medicare, where there is little incentive for the patients to monitor costs, the issues of excessive costs and utilization are widespread.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.