In a new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Dean Baker states: “The mainstream media has failed to report that the Ryan plan is a privatisation programme that will hand $30tn to insurers”
$30 trillion dollars to private insurance companies? Hmmm, no wonder the Republicans have been all over Ryan’s budget plan. You see, privatised healthcare in this country never worked for retirees and seniors. Why? Well, if you owned a business whose sole reason of existence was to make a profit, would you care to insure an 80 year old senior who has been diagnosed with a long-term illness? Probably not, because its simply not good business. And that is exactly why we began Medicare/Medicaid – to protect those unfortunate individuals who cannot protect themselves. After all, we live in America. We don’t throw away our elderly – who for years, by the way, bought into the program, worked hard, raised families, and are now in their most vulnerable years – to the unforgiving tide and flow of market principles. We are the country of liberty, freedom, and democracy. There is no liberty, no freedom, and no democracy to a dying individual on a respirator, unable to pay private health insurance companies their extreme premiums.
But Paul Ryan doesn’t care.
“The nation is drowning in endless accounts of how the huge deficit will sink the economy and the country. These accounts invariably feature stories of a Congress addicted to spending and a nation that wants government benefits that it doesn’t want to pay for.
This story has nothing to do with reality, as all budget analysts know. The explosion of the budget deficit in the last three years is a response to the plunge in private sector demand following the collapse of the housing bubble. If the budget deficit were smaller, we would simply have less demand and fewer jobs.
Paul Ryan did his best to lay out the long-term story as clearly as possible with his plan to privatise Medicare. The analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) shows that Ryan’s plan would hugely increase the cost of healthcare to seniors. Under the Ryan plan, a Medicare-equivalent policy is projected to cost almost half of a median 65-year-old retiree’s income by 2030. It would soon exceed the income of most retirees, as healthcare costs outpace income growth.
However most of the additional burden projected for retirees is not the result of cost-shifting from the government. The vast majority of the additional burden that the CBO projected for retirees comes from the higher cost of private insurance compared with the government-run Medicare system. The additional cost as a result of adopting Ryan’s privatised system is more than $30tn over Medicare’s 75-year planning horizon.”
So there you go. As many progressive organizations have already realized, the Ryan budget plan is not about tackling the budget deficit, its about shrinking the government. With government services curtailed, those same services will be picked up by the private sector. Now, that may sound good to some, but the reality is that there are some services in this country that should not be debatable, in the sense that they should not be left to the whims of a faceless corporation – questions of life and death fall in this category. And as human beings, all we have to do is think of our aging loved ones – whether it be our mothers, fathers, grandmothers, or grandfathers – to realize that healthcare is one of them.