With Ryan nomination, Romney confirms goal of pushing healthcare inflation onto the poor, infirm and old

by pdxblake

The nomination of Paul Ryan as the VP candidate is a clear sign of the priorities for the Republican party.  Ryan’s budget plan was ridiculed for its reliance on fantasy in economic projections and magic asterisks and for being mean-spirited by lowering taxes on the wealthy while gutting the social safety net.  With no credible economic plan of his own, Ryan’s budget proposal is the default for what a Romney administration would push.  One of the biggest parts of his budget pushes the impact of health care inflation (in particular Medicare and Medicaid) onto the beneficiaries as well as by repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Here’s a chart that shows the inflation rate in healthcare costs for the US pre-ACA and France, which has universal coverage.

HT Business Insider

One of the goals from the ACA is to “bend the curve”, wonk-speak for lowering the rate of inflation in health care costs.  In the chart above, it is to lower the slope of the blue line closer to the slope of the red line.  Because the ACA only went half-way to a system of universal healthcare coverage like France (or the UK), the rate of growth in healthcare costs won’t be slowed quite as dramatically as it would have with a single-payer system like France has.

So, what about under Ryan’s plan?  It would get rid of the ACA, returning healthcare cost growth to its pre-ACA level, but cut government payments for healthcare to a slower rate to lower the budget deficit.  It assumes that through the “magic of the market” (in a market that suffers from market failures) the growth in costs would slow.  If they don’t, then the beneficiaries (the poor, infirm and old) would have to make up the difference from their own wallets.  Without any credible way for cost growth to slow down and with less government assistance, Ryan’s plan would require one of two things:

1) People who use Medicare and Medicaid become magically healthier and need less healthcare; or,

2) People who use Medicare and Medicaid see their healthcare rationed dramatically based on their ability to pay.

My money’s on #2, which is just one specific example of how the Ryan budget, which until Romney actually proposes something of his own, is Romney’s plan is pointless and cruel.  If that is ‘serious’ than Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney are ‘serious’.  I think its just excessively harsh bad policy.