The following was submitted by Representative Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin. More on Mr. Ryan’s plan to change Medicare and reduce the deficit is here.
For Medicare to meet its mission in the 21st century, this critical 20th century program must be secured for current and future seniors. Medicare’s open-ended, fee-for-service model distorts the health care market, inflates costs, and invites fraud and abuse. With tens of trillions of dollars in unfunded promises, Medicare is on an unsustainable trajectory, and yet ‘do-nothing’ politicians irresponsibly insist the program remain on autopilot.
Fierce opposition to Medicare reform is a disservice to both current beneficiaries and future generations.
In order to make good on Medicare’s promise, I’ve put forward reforms that offer future seniors the same health coverage options I enjoy as a member of Congress. My reform plan makes no changes for those 55 and older, as efforts to save this program ought not disrupt benefits for those in and near retirement. For those now under the age of 55, Medicare would provide seniors with a payment, a list of Medicare-approved coverage options, and the ability to choose a plan that works best for them. The Medicare payment would be adjusted so that the wealthy receive a lower subsidy, the sick would receive a higher payment if their conditions worsen, and lower-income seniors would receive additional assistance to cover out-of-pocket costs.
Both Democrats and Republicans have recommended similar reforms as a sustainable model for Medicare going forward. It is also an approach currently enjoyed by Democrats and Republicans alike, as this is how health care is delivered to members of Congress.
Going forward, we have one of two choices for Medicare reform: Put patients in charge of how their health care dollars are spent, as providers compete against each other on price and quality to better serve patients; or funnel funds through the government, force providers to lobby bureaucrats for favorable funding formulas, and leave patients on the sidelines while health care decisions are made for them.
In health care, as in any other economic arrangement, control of money is power. The question remaining is then: Who gets the power? The government or the patient? Patient power will always serve the needs of the people far better than bureaucrats managing the decline of a government-run system on the verge of bankruptcy.
Reform aimed to empower individuals — with a strengthened safety net for the poor and the sick — will not only ensure the fiscal sustainability of this program, the federal budget, and the United States economy, but also guarantee that Medicare can fulfill the promise of health security for America’s seniors.
This article available online here.