Both Ryan and Obama Plans Cut Medicare




Under Representative Paul Ryan’s plan, Medicare would be turned into a voucher system for those under age 55. Instead of the government giving you a blank check to visit your doctor as often as you like while sending the bill to your children, you would get a fixed sum to buy insurance.

The essential flaw of the Ryan plan is that it makes no attempt to directly control soaring costs, the root of Medicare's problems, and ultimately our fiscal disaster. See USA Today's tally of $61.6 trillion in unfunded government liabilities, at least $25 million of it for Medicare, or $212,500 per household, using very conservative estimates.

Conservatives reason that if consumers spent their own money on doctors, they'd exercise more restraint. There is great truth to this proposition and it probably would work some; but health care is not an ideal service for shopping. Sick people, especially the elderly, tend to follow their doctor's advice rather than price shop. There is also nothing to stop future Congresses from increasing the amount of the Ryan vouchers and thus eliminating any savings, a "danger" that Democrats conveniently ignore.

So health care costs would probably continue to rise despite the added competitive pressures, leaving tomorrow's seniors with a shrinking voucher. Hence Pelosi's charge that Republicans would "destroy Medicare."

But the fact is, Obamacare cuts Medicare too, by scaling back Medicare Advantage plans and by strengthening the Independent Payment Advisory Board, popularly known as the death panel, to put the brakes on excessive spending. Its flaw is that the brakes aren't strong enough.

Bottom line: Medicare will be cut, under Democrats or Republicans. The current program is unsustainable and anything that is unsustainable will change.

To find out more go to: sfchronicle.com

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