Views on Medicare debate: Krugman skewers Ryan's budget plan; WSJ says Obama setting a double standard

New perspectives on the Medicare plans put forth by both Obama and Rep. Paul Ryan.

The New York Times: An Unserious Man
On the spending side, Mr. Ryan proposes huge cuts in Medicaid, turning it over to the states while sharply reducing funding relative to projections under current policy. That saves around $800 billion. He proposes similar harsh cuts in food stamps, saving a further $130 billion or so, plus a grab-bag of other cuts, such as reduced aid to college students. Let's be generous and say that all these cuts would save $1 trillion. On top of this, Mr. Ryan includes the $716 billion in Medicare savings that are part of Obamacare, even though he wants to scrap everything else in that act. Despite this, Mr. Ryan has now joined Mr. Romney in denouncing President Obama for "cutting Medicare" (Paul Krugman, 8/19).

The Washington Post: Why Ryan Might Be Right About Medicare
Overlooked in the furor surrounding Paul Ryan's Medicare proposal -; a plan, it should be recalled, that wouldn't start until 2023 and even then would affect only new beneficiaries -; is a just-published study in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggesting that, well, Ryan might be right. The study finds that a voucher-type system might noticeably reduce costs compared to "traditional" fee-for-service Medicare. Three Harvard economists did the study, including one prominent supporter of President Obama's health-care overhaul (Robert J. Samuelson, 8/19).

The Washington Post: False Piety And The Medicare Debate
Deficit hawks are worried that the Medicare debate in the presidential campaign will make it impossible to reach a post-election deal to balance the budget. At the same time, much of the punditry focuses on how mean and nasty this campaign is (E.J. Dionne Jr., 8/19).

The Wall Street Journal: The Medicscare Boomerang
President Obama all but called Paul Ryan's Medicare reform un-American in 2011, and Democrats have since spent 16 months running their familiar Mediscare campaign. But all of a sudden liberals and their media bodyguards claim to be scandalized because Mitt Romney has the nerve to defend himself by describing Mr. Obama's own "Medicare cuts." How dare he? The double standard is predictable, but the furor is also instructive (8/20).

The Wall Street Journal: The $6,400 Myth
One of President Obama's regular attacks on Paul Ryan's Medicare reform is that it would force seniors to pay $6,400 a year more for health care. But merely because he keeps repeating this doesn't mean it's in the same area code of accurate. The claim is based on a now out-of-date Congressional Budget Office estimate of the gap between the cost of health care a decade from now, in 2022, and the size of the House budget's premium-support subsidy for a typical 65-year-old in 2022 (8/19).

USA Today: Medicare Problems Finally Arrive On Center Stage
Among the results of Mitt Romney's selection of Rep. Paul Ryan to be his running mate is this remarkable fact: The era of national candidates ignoring the exploding costs of Medicare for fear of the consequences appears to be ending (8/19).

USA Today: Other Views: 'Try All These Things'
USA Today collected views on Medicare from Aaron Carroll, Atul Gawande, James C. Capretta and Jonathan Chait (8/19). 

The New York Times: Truth And Lies About Medicare
Republican attacks on President Obama's plans for Medicare are growing more heated and inaccurate by the day. Both Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan made statements last week implying that the Affordable Care Act would eviscerate Medicare when in fact the law should shore up the program's finances (8/18).

Bloomberg: What Paul Ryan, And His Critics, Can Learn From Canada
The Canadian experience shows that block grants can improve the quality of government health benefits, so long as they are structured properly. Liberals laud Canadian Medicare (Canada's health insurance program, not to be confused with the American program for seniors) for its single-payer structure and universal access, but they should note Canada's health plan for all is actually run by provincial governments and funded through block grants, the mechanism Ryan now proposes for Medicaid (Evan Soltas, 8/19).

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: The Best Approach: Adopt The Best Ideas – And Soon
We think Ryan leaves too much in doubt and puts too much faith in the market to shape a health care industry stubbornly resistant to change: He insists on repealing the health care reform act. Reform, don't repeal. But some of his ideas -- and by extension Romney's -- merit consideration. Something must be done soon: Medicare is going broke (8/18).

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Ryan's Plan Offers Hope For Medicare
So, while Democrats portray Ryan's plan to save Medicare as a "cut," that simply isn't true. (Aside from the fact that the changes are optional; if a future senior prefers the current fee-for-service arrangement, he or she can keep it.) Ryan's plan saves money by reducing the overall cost of health care, not by underfunding it. On the other hand, President Barack Obama's health care law takes a different route. Rather than using patient choice as a way of keeping costs down, the Affordable Care Act empowers 15 unelected bureaucrats to decide which services Medicare will cover and how much doctors will be reimbursed (Christian Schneider, 8/18).

Kansas City Star: Why 'Mediscare' May Not Work This Time
You can almost smell the panic. (Former Vermont Gov. Howard) Dean and many Democrats try to dismiss the Romney-Ryan plan as a "voucher," suggesting it would send checks to seniors with a note saying, "This is for your health insurance. Good luck." Well, no. Today's seniors wouldn't be affected at all. The plan wouldn't be implemented for 10 years. And the money wouldn't go to individuals. It would go to providers (E. Thomas McLanahan, 8/18).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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