While healthcare reform is now 13 months old, one might have been misled into believing the country had solved the health care crisis. Sure, many more Americans will have access to affordable healthcare insurance. Health care reform, or health care insurance reform as many call it, is a big step forward for so many Americans who have been denied access to the health care system for a whole host of reasons.
It, almost, does not matter that many of the key provisions do not kick in for several years. We heard about some of the quick “wins” now in effect. Children under age 26 are allowed to stay on their parents insurance (in most cases); lifetime caps on insurance coverage have been removed; Medicare beneficiaries have seen the donut whole start to close and get some “free” preventative services. I could list many more but that is not the point.
A significant proposal was introduced for controlling the skyrocketing costs of Medicare, an increasingly difficult financial burden for the federal government. The House Budget Committee Chairman, Paul Ryan, a Republican, presented a comprehensive budget proposal that includes a plan to privatize Medicare. Representative Ryan believes his plan will save the federal government billions of dollars annually and prevent insolvency of the Medicare program.
It is important to understand Medicare is, generally speaking, supported by health care taxes (paid by us), premiums paid by beneficiaries for certain components of the program (physicians and drugs), and by general funds from the federal budget (income taxes paid by us). This plan assumes the private sector will do a better job reigning in the skyrocketing costs of Medicare than the federal government can do on its own. The sad truth is Representative Ryan may be right but I hope he’s wrong.
I am a supporter of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I have made no secret in telling people the current system is severely broken and on a path to financial ruin. I have also said the health care reform law is flawed and does not go far enough in addressing the skyrocketing costs of providing health care to Medicare beneficiaries and all Americans. We are faced with some very simple facts: