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Congressman Paul Ryan Offers A Roadmap For America’s Future At The Medicare Policy Summit

paul-ryanRepublicans do not support Barack Obama’s economic stimulus bill, nor are they too keen on the democratic approach to healthcare reform. Congressman Paul Ryan outlined an alternative approach to healthcare reform at the recent Medicare Policy Summit conference. His key points:

1. All Americans should have access to the same health benefits that federal employees have. They receive a medical savings account, with subsidies offered when they are sick, according to their need. Full support is available for low-income beneficiaries, while partial support is offered to high income beneficiaries. Ryan argues that targeting Medicare according to need will keep the program solvent (rather than offering full coverage to the very wealthy, etc.)

2. Tax credits should provide the basis for healthcare coverage so that individuals are not dependent on their employers for health insurance. Individuals would purchase their own health insurance either via their employer or on an open market that would promote competition between the plans to drive prices down. Individuals would be able to keep the remainder of their tax credit if they select a health plan that costs less than their yearly credit.

3. Americans will be allowed to purchase health insurance across state lines, allowing them further coverage options and increasing competition among the plans to decrease costs.

4. Small businesses may join a national group (Associations Health Plans) to pool risks and drive down the cost of providing health insurance to their employees.

5. States would create “high risk pools” for people with pre-existing conditions who could not afford insurance premiums. Federal funding would help to offset the cost of insuring these individuals.

Ryan explained that the Ways and Means Committee that oversees Medicare is basically “a bunch of politicians sitting in a room playing Caesar – giving either a thumb’s up or thumb’s down to healthcare reform and finance issues.” He warns that they will be doing a lot more of that if America continues on its current course of “more regulation, with the federal government dictating the practice of medicine, and rationing our healthcare.”

Ryan’s predictions are grim:

1. Within 2 years 17% of our economy will move from the private sector column to the public sector column.

2. Pete Stark will lead the charge for an Institute of Comparative Effectiveness to direct care choices in medicine. Physicians will have fewer treatment options to offer their patients.

3. Small health plans will go out of business, leaving only a few large plans, with decreased competition and fewer choices for consumers.

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For more information about Ryan’s views, please check out The Roadmap For America’s Future.


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2 Responses to “Congressman Paul Ryan Offers A Roadmap For America’s Future At The Medicare Policy Summit”

  1. Shadowfax says:

    Meh. This is almost verbatim a rehash of McCain's plan. I'm pretty sure that was rejected at the polls last November. Half of the provisions in this “plan” are based on false assumptions; the other half just wouldn't work. If the GOP can't come up with some new policy ideas, they're going to be an irrelevant minority for a long time to come.

  2. Lisa Emrich says:

    Where to start?

    1. I have relatives who are federal employees and they have excellent insurance plans from which to choose. Basically, this is because the insurance companies must meet stringent minimum requirements which means that none of the offerings are truly poor options. If I were able to purchase the very same coverage my civil servant mother does here in the DC area, even at 2-3x the cost, I would jump at the chance.

    2. Tax credits to purchase on the open market. The individual market as it is now is wild-west, run amok. Why does the individual market have such a small percentage of all insurance business? Is it that smart folks cling tightly to group coverage at all costs because that's where the greater safety from risk resides?

    3. Purchasing across state lines? Why not just create NATIONAL standards so that it doesn't matter in which state you reside. If I lived in Massachusetts, I'd have excellent coverage. But here in DC, I'm left bearing great cost just to obtain routine treatment for my MS.

    4. Again, pooling risks. The only way to most effectively 'pool' risks is to put everybody into the very same pool. “A burden shared is a burden halved.”

    5. Look to the states which already do have “high-risk pools.” How do they function for both the patient, his physicians, and the state budget?

    I apologize if I sound skeptical, but that's because I am. As a self-employed individual who purchased the very best coverage available to her almost 9 years ago on the individual market, I am trapped in a system I would not wish upon anyone else.

    Sure, my premiums are only $4000/year for a 40-year old woman; I only spent about $4000 on co-pays/co-insurance in 2008; but the cost of obtaining pharmaceuticals is outrageous. Carefirst will only cover $1500 in drugs each year, leaving the remainder of the almost $30,000 to me. In order to receive assistance from one drug company, I must earn no more than 200% FPL which is $21,660 in 2009.

    If Carefirst were required to cover a minimum % of all drug costs (ie. 80-90%), I would be free to concentrate on staying healthy and financially independent while preparing for the future. As it is, clip my wings now while I am still able to work, so that I will truly have no choice but to be dependent upon the state in the future. That just doesn't make sense to me and no amount of competition in the open market is going to solve my situation which is shared by many others who live with chronic disease.

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