Home > Beltway bulls**t, Health care > It’s class war, and the wealthy are attacking

It’s class war, and the wealthy are attacking

Republicans are finally coming clean about their intentions to dismantle Medicare and Medicaid while ushering in a new age of chickens in every pot and ponies for every child. It’s just another skirmish in the war of the rich vs. everybody else, with the GOP as the wealthy’s mercenary foot soldiers.

House Republican leader Paul Ryan proposes to change Medicare from what it is today — a program with the government paying for defined benefits — to something very different — a program to which the government would make defined contributions. As Aaron Carroll at The Incidental Economist explains,

A defined contribution plan is NOTHING like a defined benefit plan. Going to a voucher system, is a total change from Medicare. It’s the “end of Medicare as we know it”. Medicare right now is the equivalent of Canada’s single payer health care system. You want to end that; you want to privatize it. It’s a radical change. Own it. Deal with it.

The ongoing growth of health-care costs is the real problem — Medicare and Medicaid spending are symptoms, not causes; costs are going up even faster for people who have private insurance or none at all.

To hold down increases in Medicare spending, you can either (a) cut benefits or (b) reduce payments to doctors, hospitals and others. Ryan wants to go all-in on cutting benefits without admitting that’s what he’s doing. Perhaps he chooses not to address payments because doctors and hospital executives and nursing-home owners tend to vote Republican.

Here are some of Carroll’s comments on what Ryan claimed in a Wall St Journal op-ed:

  • I am still not convinced that you can just spend less on these programs and believe that access and or quality will not suffer without actually creating active programs to contain costs. I’m not seeing that yet, just a hope that “empowered” seniors will somehow manage to drive costs down in a manner not seen yet.
  • I’m not clear why [partly subsidized health insurance would be] perfectly acceptable for those over the age of 65, but repellent if you’re under 65 under the PPACA. Of course, I’ve also been unclear why, right now, a single payer system is American-as-apple pie if you’re over 65, but the end-of-freedom-as-we-know-it if you’re under 65.

Bill Sez: Ryan’s proposals would surely put us on the path to a two-tiered health care system, with negative effects on access and quality for many people over 65 and most low-income people. The other despicable part of Ryan’s proposal is tax “reform” that would cut taxes for the richest 10% of Americans and raise taxes for everyone else. It almost seems like the GOP wants to turn the U.S. into a 3rd world country, where the rich live in gated/walled enclaves protected by armed guards and everybody else is supposed to get by on bread and water.

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