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Friday, April 15, 2011

Insurance Companies to Paul Ryan: We Don't Want the Medicare Business

Paul Ryan and his budget planThe Republican-controlled House will vote on Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan today, despite the fact that this thing is dead in the water. The support from some House Republicans has been noticeably weak to nonexistent and high-profile Senate GOP are now arguing deficit reduction can't be taken seriously if the party is unwilling to even discuss tax increases.

So bad news all around for the future of Paul Ryan's fantasy-economics porn. Even if it gets past all these hurdles, President Obama will veto it and that'll be the end of it. The votes aren't there to override. It's been fun pointing out how ridiculous this thing is, but it begins the process of dying today.

But that's not going to stop me from piling on. Because Ryan's plan is the perfect expression of principles of today's Republican Party -- socialism in reverse, a seeming disgust with the unemployed and the struggling, and a complete and total misunderstanding of even the most basic economic principles. It isn't a budget proposal, it's a big "screw you!" to the very notion that government should serve the people and a slap in the face of the idea that we're all in this together.


So, as it heads off toward its doom, there's no shame in giving the plan one last kick on the way out. If there was ever a set of economic policies from an American party that deserved it more, I can't think of it. Cruel and necessarily delusional -- i.e., the delusion is necessary to justify the cruelty -- it should be framed and put in a monument in DC, under a huge plaque that reads, "THIS WE SHALL NEVER DO!"

With that in mind, let's get that one last shot in, shall we?

Talking Points Memo:

At first glance, Paul Ryan's plan to send millions of seniors into the free market with dwindling vouchers in hand might seem a boon to the private insurance industry. But would companies even want to participate?

Unlike the Affordable Care Act, which mandated that millions of young and healthy Americans purchase insurance with government subsidies, the Paul Ryan plan would instead bring the oldest, sickest, and least profitable demographic to the table. And with the CBO projecting that the average senior would be on the hook for over two-thirds of their health care costs within just 10 years of the plan's adoption -- a proportion that is projected to worsen in the long run --- the government subsidies backing them up may not bring in enough profitable customers to make things worthwhile.

"If reimbursement rates are too low to provide basic benefits, they'll tell the government, 'You do it,'" one insurance lobbyist told TPM. "I don't think they can require they lose money, they'd just pull out."

That's right, Ryan's plan goes so far in giving away the Medicare store that it's handing out treats to kids who don't want them. There's a reason why Medicare exists, after all. It wasn't just some crazy idea Lyndon Johnson dreamed up one day. It was the solution to a problem and that problem was one that the "free market," as we call it today, wasn't willing to address -- because there's no money in it.

And it also turns out that Ryan cooked up his little privatization scheme without even consulting the industry he was throwing the privatized customer-base to. If he had, he would've discovered that they don't want the business, because it's more trouble than it's worth -- the very same problem that made Medicare necessary in the first place. Paul Ryan found the solution to a problem and boldly and courageously unsolved it.

Now let's enjoy the slow process of watching that unsolving fail.


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