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Hiltzik: Ryan determined to gut Medicare



National Economics and business columnist Mike Hiltzik writes in the Los Angeles Times that House Speaker Paul Ryan is determined to gut Medicare. Mr. Hiltzik writes:

“Bursting with the policymaking power that control of both houses of Congress and the White House gives Republicans, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R.-Wis.) has lost no time in teeing up a favorite goal: gutting Medicare.

“In an interview with Fox News Channel, Ryan said: ‘Obamacare rewrote Medicare … so if you’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare, you have to address those issues as well. … What people don’t realize is that Medicare is going broke, that Medicare is going to have price controls. … So you have to deal with those issues if you’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare. Medicare has got some serious problems because of Obamacare. Those things are part of our plan to replace Obamacare.’

“There’s no secret about what specifically Ryan has in mind. He intends to replace traditional Medicare, an efficient program offering guaranteed treatment and featuring rock-bottom administrative costs, with a privatized program. Seniors would get a federal voucher to help them pay premiums charged by commercial insurance plans. Ryan calls this system ‘premium support.’

“But since the value of the vouchers would rise at less than the rate of healthcare inflation, and the costs of private insurance typically rise faster than those of Medicare, an ever-larger share of healthcare costs would land on seniors’ shoulders. In 2011, when Ryan first proposed this change, the Kaiser Family Foundation calculated that by 2022, healthcare spending would consume roughly half of the typical 65-year-old’s Social Security check, compared to only 22% under the existing Medicare system.”

To read all of Mr. Hiltzik’s column, please hit this link.

‘Personalized medicine’s’ benefits and costs


Joe Randolph,  president and  CEO of the Innovation Institute,  looks at the implications of “personalized medicine,” which will probably allow many more people to live much longer and thus cause an big expansion in the number of elderly people.

He raises these questions:

  • “What will the cost be for living longer?
  • “Who will have access to the advances?
  • “What other problems does extending life create?
  • “If people live longer, will they work longer? What’s the impact on retirement and Social Security?”

“The healthcare system and society need to prepare and think about the impacts these advances will have so that the benefits can be shared by all and not just those with means to afford the advances.”


ACA foes regroup


After their defeat in the Supreme Court, foes of the Affordable Care Act plan to chip away at the law by actions in Congress and state legislatures. Still,  some opponents, such as the liberatarian Cato Institute, vow to  keeping trying to overturn the whole law.

But as “Obamacare” becomes more entrenched as millions of people become dependent on it, getting any major changes will become more difficult. For years after the introduction of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid there were Republican-led campaigns to eliminate those laws but the millions who benefited from them eventually made the demise of these laws politically impossible.

Remember how strongly Tea Party folks opposed any limits on their Medicare benefits?

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