The big question is whether any of Ryan’s or even the President’s proposals will come to fruition and those trillion dollars in savings achieved. Increasing the age of eligibility doesn’t even begin until 2021 and then takes another 11 years to 2032 to actually reach the proposed eligibility age of 67. Premium supports are at least 10 years away. Even capping Medicare beneficiary costs is a couple of years away.
Ben Goldberg, CEO of the National Academy of Social Insurance, a Washington, D.C. healthcare think tank, says his main concern is that both proposals seem more concerned with reducing costs than improving healthcare. He acknowledges that the President’s cost reduction proposals are a little easier to understand because with the Affordable Care Act in place “the administration is already implementing measures that will reduce healthcare costs by looking at how healthcare is delivered and how that system can be improved to reduce costs.”
That opinion is shared by Marsha Proctor Killen, CEO at StrategyGen a Jacksonville, Fla-based healthcare benefits consultant. She sees premium supports as a windfall for private healthcare insurers. “Yes, they could produce a savings for the program because the beneficiaries will be purchasing their own coverage and private insurers will be paying for the medical procedures but how will privatizing the system improve healthcare?”
So what do we really have here? Are we looking to make meaningful policy or simply score some budget points? Ryan’s budget has already passed the House but will probably never see the light of day in the Senate. But once again the public debate about healthcare has been reduced to dollar and cents not long-term policies and good sense.