Forget the boorishness. Just read the final transcript of Biden-Ryan transcript.
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Ryan then said, “7.4 million seniors are projected to lose their current Medicare Advantage coverage they have. That’s a $3,200 benefit cut.” Biden’s interrupted: “That didn’t happen. More people signed up for Medicare Advantage after the change.”
But the change they are talking about hasn’t even happened yet. Indeed, Obama delayed the initial implementation of it until after the election, precisely because Ryan is right. Medicare’s Chief Actuary again reports exactly what Ryan said, “We estimate that in 2017, when the [Medicare Advantage] provisions will be fully phased in, enrollment in MA plans will be lower by about 50 percent (from its projected level of 14.8 million under prior law to 7.4 million under the new law).”
Shouting Ryan Down
Ryan explained his proposed Medicare reforms during the debate as follows:
Here’s what we’re saying: give younger people, when they become Medicare eligible, guaranteed coverage options that you can’t be denied, including traditional Medicare. Choose your plan, and then Medicare subsidizes your premiums, not as much as for the wealthy people, more coverage for middle-income people, and total out-of-pocket coverage for the poor and the sick.
Choice and competition. We would rather have 50 million future seniors determine how their Medicare is delivered to them instead of 15 bureaucrats deciding what, if, when, where, they get it.
The supposed moderator Martha Raddatz then asked Ryan: “What is your specific plan for seniors who really can’t afford to make up the difference in the value of what you call a premium support plan and others call a voucher.” But both Biden and Raddatz then interrupted and talked over Ryan so much, it is doubtful anyone understood the answer.
Ryan did get out the correct answer: “Hundred percent coverage,” as reported in the transcript. But here is why that is correct: Ryan’s plan would empower seniors 10 years from now with the freedom to choose among private health insurance plans to provide at least the same benefits as Medicare, or to stay in Medicare as today (which continues to guarantee the same benefits as Medicare today). If the senior chooses a private plan, Medicare pays a premium support payment to that chosen plan to help pay for it. If the senior chooses a more expensive plan, the senior must pay the difference.
But the amount of the premium support payment is set by competitive bidding among all the plans at an amount sufficient to pay 100% of the premium of the two lowest cost plans. So every senior would continue to have the choice of at least two health insurance plans in their area, plus Medicare. Ryan’s plan also provides more in premium support payments to lower income and sicker seniors so that they will enjoy even more cost-free choices, and be assured of full protection.
What this involves is merely extending the more modern, highly successful and popular Medicare Parts C and D to the old-fashioned Medicare Parts A and B. Medicare Part D is the prescription drug plan, which provides precisely premium support payments to the private health plan of each senior’s choice. That competition has resulted in program costs 40% below original projections. Part C is Medicare Advantage, under which one fourth of seniors have already chosen private health insurance to provide their Medicare benefits at no extra cost to them, because they believe they get better benefits from those private plans.
The Ryan reform plan originated in a proposal from two long time liberal academics, Henry Aaron of the Brookings Institution, and former CBO Director Robert Reischauer. That proposal was picked up by the Clinton Medicare reform commission chaired by former Democrat Senator John Breaux. The first Director of CBO, long time liberal academic Alice Rivlin, not only has supported the Ryan plan, but contributed to its development. Today, the Senate version of Ryan’s Medicare reform is sponsored in the Senate by Ron Wyden, liberal Democrat from liberal Oregon.
But at the debate, Biden interrupted Ryan to falsely assert, “There’s not one Democrat that endorses it,” despite the above long Democrat history with the reform concept. Biden interrupted again to falsely claim that Wyden no longer supports the Senate companion bill for the Ryan reforms, which he himself introduced and does continue to support. When Ryan brought up Rivlin, Biden falsely claimed that she has renounced it, though quite to the contrary, she has recently reaffirmed it. When Ryan tried to explain that the idea came from the Clinton Medicare Reform Commission, Biden interrupted to say that it was rejected, even though Clinton never rejected the recommendations of his own Medicare Commission.
But Biden had his own idea, saying, “if they just allowed Medicare to bargain for the cost of drugs like Medicaid can, that would save $156 billion right off the bat.” When Ryan explained that central planning bargaining would deny seniors choices, Biden asked, “Look, folks, all you seniors out there, have you been denied choices? Have you lost Medicare Advantage?”
Silly question, because the reform that Biden raised has never been passed, so how could it already be denying seniors choices? Moreover, CBO has already scored Biden’s proposal, concluding that it would result in “negligible” savings.
Tall Tax Tales
Biden proclaimed at the debate:
And instead of signing pledges to Grover Norquist not to ask the wealthiest among us to contribute to bring back the middle class, they should be signing a pledge saying to the middle class we’re going to level the playing field; we’re going to give you a fair shot again.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?