Paul Krugman: Vouchercare Is Not Medicare
Republicans can't handle the truth:
Vouchercare Is Not Medicare, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: What’s in a name? A lot, the National Republican Congressional Committee obviously believes. Last week, the committee sent a letter demanding that a TV station stop running an ad declaring that the House Republican budget plan would “end Medicare.” This, the letter insisted, was a false claim: the plan would simply install a “new, sustainable version of Medicare.”
But ... Republicans are indeed seeking to dismantle Medicare as we know it, replacing it with a much worse program. I’m seeing many attempts to shout down anyone making this obvious point, and not just from Republican politicians. For some reason, many commentators seem to believe that accurately describing what the G.O.P. is actually proposing amounts to demagoguery. But there’s nothing demagogic about telling the truth. ...
By the way, defenders of the G.O.P. plan often assert..., falsely, that Vouchercare would be just like the coverage federal employees get. More recently, I’ve been seeing claims that Vouchercare would be just like the system created ... by last year’s health care reform — a fairly remarkable defense from a party that has denounced that reform as evil incarnate.
So let me make two points. First, Obamacare was very much a second-best plan, conditioned by perceived political realities. Most of the health reformers I know would have greatly preferred simply expanding Medicare to cover all Americans. Second, the Affordable Care Act is all about making health care, well, affordable, offering subsidies whose size is determined by the need to limit the share of their income that families spend on medical costs. Vouchercare, by contrast, would simply hand out vouchers of a fixed size, regardless of the actual cost of insurance. And these vouchers would be grossly inadequate.
But what about the claim that none of this matters, because Medicare as we know it is unsustainable? Nonsense.
Yes, Medicare has to get serious about cost control; it has to start saying no to expensive procedures with little or no medical benefits, it has to change the way it pays doctors and hospitals, and so on. And a number of reforms of that kind are ... included in the Affordable Care Act. But with these changes it should be entirely possible to maintain a system that provides all older Americans with guaranteed essential health care.
Consider Canada,... while Canadian health care isn’t perfect, it’s not bad. Canadian Medicare ... looks sustainable; why can’t we do the same thing here? Well, you know the answer in the case of the Republicans: They don’t want to make Medicare sustainable, they want to destroy it under the guise of saving it.
So in voting for the House budget plan, Republicans voted to end Medicare. Saying that isn’t demagoguery, it’s just pointing out the truth.
Posted by Mark Thoma on Monday, June 6, 2011 at 12:33 AM in Economics, Health Care, Politics |
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