Since yesterday morning, when Paul Ryan was selected as the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee, President Obama’s campaign team has been spreading charges through its liberal media allies that, if Ryan wins, he will destroy Medicare. They assume that the elderly much like the rest of the demographic groups who support Obama, are ignorant of the facts and will believe that Ryan is a pure ideologue who finds compromise anathema to achieving policies. In reality, though, Paul Ryan worked together with Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, a liberal Democrat, to try to get our nation out of the Medicare quagmire which threatens to drown the federal deficit.
For years, Wyden has been concerned about the devastating effects that the exponential increases in health care costs are having on wages and upon the federal budget. In 2010, in the midst of the health care debacle in Congress, Wyden co-sponsored the Healthy Americans Act with conservative Utah Republican Bob Bennett which would have ended the employer based health insurance system which is the root cause of the problem. Although this bill enjoyed bipartisan support in the Senate, and would have easily passed in that body, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her band of henchmen killed the bill on arrival, hoping to get a single-payer system encoded into law. The end result is the hodgepodge we are left with now, an employer-based system that will keep take home wages low.
But Wyden did not give up after the Republican victory in 2010. He then went to Paul Ryan, the new head of the House Budget Committee. Ryan had previously come up with his own plan to fix the Medicare problem. The two of them came up with a system to repair Medicare, with a combination of each of their plans. Here are some of the changes Ryan made in order to compromise with Wyden, and make the bill more attractive to Democrats:
• Instead of merely providing vouchers, the support payments for seniors who opt to buy health care outside of Medicare would be increased consistent with health care inflation;
• Any private insurance carrier in the system must provide benefits at least as good as Medicare;
• Low income seniors would be eligible for subsidies to make health insurance more affordable;
• There would be a federal oversight of the policies offered by insurance carriers; and
• There would be a catastrophic benefit option.
This plan was immediately attacked by liberal interest groups as a threat to Medicare and was killed in the Senate. What the bill does show, however, that Ryan is interested in getting workable policies enacted. He is willing to work with Democrats on the Hill to get things done for the benefit of all Americans.