The Spectacle Blog

Ryan Medicare Reform as Cash Handout

By on 6.17.11 | 11:07AM

Would Paul Ryan's plan to transition Medicare from a fee-for-service to a premium-support model be more popular if people were told that the government was going to simply cut them a check like this one under the Ryan plan? 

Deroy Murdock, who passes along this image from Keybridge Communications, thinks so

John Goodman agrees, arguing that it would mean that Medicare was becoming more like Social Security: 

Would this be enough to sway the voters? Look at it this way: Suppose I stood up and announced that seniors were too near-sighted, hard-of-hearing, and easily confused to decide where to live, or buy groceries, or which car to drive. Therefore, the U.S. government will cease depositing Social Security payments into seniors' bank accounts. Instead that money will be allocated to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to rent and assign housing for seniors, to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to negotiate contracts with supermarkets and the like where seniors could pick up government-approved groceries for little or no money, and to the U.S. Department of Transportation to lease and assign appropriate vehicles for seniors' use.

New offices within these departments will be established to determine what the right prices should be for all the relevant goods and services, and providers will not be able to "balance bill" (except within approved limits, and with strict oversight) seniors who value their goods and services more than others.

Such a proposal would not last one day in the court of public opinion. And yet, I suspect that if FDR had set up Social Security like that, any plans to "voucherize" it today would draw the same charges as those leveled at Ryan's Medicare proposal...

All true, but still...something about handing out straight cash (or close to it) seems like a violation of conservatism. For one thing, if it's hard to cut Medicare now, just imagine when seniors stop getting their MediChoice checks, or notice the value decreasing...

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