Sunday, April 17, 2011

Ryan, Obama both fail Medicare test

Updated: April 16, 2011 - 9:01 PM
They offer contrasting approaches, but there are flaws in each.

Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan deserves credit for putting Medicare's soaring costs front-and-center in the raging debate over the nation's runaway spending.

But his prescription for fixing the federal health program for the elderly -- Ryan's plan would provide subsidies to buy private health insurance -- is too harsh and would shift unaffordable care costs onto seniors

The reality is that Medicare's current costs are an existential threat to the program. The total Medicare bill in 1999 was $212 billion: Ten years later, it had increased to $502 billion as the baby boomers prepared to retire.

Obama's speech offered reassuring but vague rhetoric about Medicare's future. He's right that there are alternatives to Ryan's plan, which paints in stark detail what it means to rein in entitlement programs without a tax increase.

But the president needs to provide details..

Now the president and his party need to do the same. The nation can't afford to wait until after the 2012 election..

"When Roosevelt invented Social Security, it was not designed to lift the old out of poverty. It was designed because the cost of caring for the old was crushing middle-aged families. One of the questions that needs to be asked here about the [Ryan] plan is not how does this affect the old, but rather what are the Gen-Xers and -Yers going to do when Grandpa's medical bills come due? Because they're going to come due.''read more

DR. STEVEN MILES, Minneapolis physician and bioethicist

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