The Town Hall Rage Over Ryan's Medicare Plan

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Written by Dean Baker   
Friday, 29 April 2011 09:46
The facts are very clear on this: The public would hate Rep. Ryan's Medicare plan, if they realized what it is. Every poll shows that the public overwhelmingly supports the Medicare program in its current form. This is true across the board. Even the overwhelming majority of Republicans support keeping Medicare in its current form.

The Ryan plan is quite explicitly designed to end Medicare as we know it in the same way that Jonas Salk designed a vaccine to eliminate polio. There is no real question here, it gets rid of the Medicare system for anyone under age 55 today and replaces it with a voucher.

The projections from the Congressional Budget Office show that the Ryan plan would raise the cost of buying Medicare equivalent policies by $34 trillion over Medicare's 75-year planning period. This sum comes to $110,000 for every man, woman, and child in the country. It is almost seven times as large as the projected Social Security shortfall that makes the Washington pundits so excited.

This $34 trillion is pure waste. It is the Congressional Budget Office's projection of the additional payments to insurers, drug companies, hospitals and other health care providers that would result from relying on private insurers instead of the traditional Medicare program. In addition, Ryan's plan would also transfer about $4 trillion in costs from the government to beneficiaries.

Unfortunately, very few media outlets believe it is their responsibility to provide information about government policies. They obviously believe that the typical person has more time and ability to analyze budget proposals than their reporters. As a result, most of the public still doesn't realize that the Republican majority in the House of Representatives voted to end Medicare.

So the question is whether a group of activists can go around the media and explain the general public what their representatives in Congress are trying to do. In the pre-Internet Age, they wouldn't have a chance. However, with the vast majority of families now on the web, it is possible that these protests will be successful in calling attention to the Republicans' plan to end Medicare. With luck, the media may even pull a reporter or two from Trump-birther beat and have them analyze the Ryan plan.

This post originally appeared on POLITICO's The Arena.