September 17 2012
Medicare: A Choice of Two Futures
When Mitt Romney selected Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate in this year’s Presidential election, the heated debate over the future of costly entitlement programs quickly reopened.
Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Budget Committee, has proposed structural reforms to Medicare. Those who are demonizing his plan suggest that he is jeopardizing the health care of today’s seniors and destroying the Medicare system.
However, the reality is that Medicare cannot continue as it has operated in the past. That's why President Obama also included significant reforms to Medicare in his health law, the Affordable Care Act. Both Ryan and Obama recognize that Medicare faces trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities, and something must be done to bring those costs down.
Ryan's proposal would not affect current seniors, but ultimately would begin giving seniors the option of using government support to purchase private health insurance (or stay on traditional Medicare). The market competition created by this system would help control costs and encourage treatments and cures.
Alternatively President Obama has created a government panel charged with bringing down Medicare’s costs. They will reduce costs by limiting the services paid for by Medicare and payments to medical providers.
Americans need to understand how both Ryan and Obama’s Medicare reforms work so that they can decide which option they prefer for Medicare in the future.