House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan’s latest budget plan includes a few deviations from last year, most notably to his Medicare reform proposal. Last spring, Democrats assailed Ryan and House Republicans for trying to “end Medicare” — a charge so false and prevalent that PolitiFact named it the “Lie of the Year.”
But the attacks from Democrats still hit their mark, and the new plan is a bit milder. Ryan still proposes a system in which senior citizens could purchase private insurance plans with Medicare vouchers. But this time around, he preserves the option for seniors to choose the public plan.
At the Washington Examiner, Phil Klein raises a valid concern:
Preserving traditional Medicare as an option is politically safer. But I question whether there could ever be a truly level-playing field when a government plan is competing against private plans.
Ryan’s latest Medicare reform proposal borrows heavily from the plan he drafted with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden late last year. But the plan’s bipartisan pedigree hasn’t prevented Democrats from launching dishonest attacks. At Forbes, Avik Roy skewers some of the false claims making the rounds on left-wing blogs:
Igor Volsky of ThinkProgress argues, erroneously, that [Path to Prosperity II] would allow private insurers to “cherry-pick the healthiest beneficiaries from traditional Medicare and leave sicker applicants to the government.” Indeed, the plan risk-adjusts the premium support levels so as to prevent that practice: a well-established methodology. Igor also worries that the plan wouldn’t reduce costs, but rather increase them, because he ignores the cost-reducing effects of competitive bidding. Gene Sperling, President Obama’s National Economic Director, repeats the adverse selection critique in Politico. This is clearly going to be the go-to line of attack for progressive wonks.
Last year the major media outlets failed miserably when it came to holding Democrats accountable for flat-out lies about Ryan’s plan. This year, the false claims are already spreading, and so far there’s no indication that the media coverage will be much better.