I saw Paul Ryan, my congressman, on television recently. He was explaining to a constituent that his plan to privatize Medicare would lower health care costs because private insurers would compete in an open market for the health care dollar, thus driving costs down. I’m a bit confused about this because I thought that the competitive marketplace he described was, in fact, the kind of system we have now for everyone under 65 years of age. As far as I can tell, medical costs are not going down. Instead, every indicator reports they are soaring. How will the over 65 market be any different from the under 65 market with regard to rising costs, except possibly worse?
I believe Congressman Ryan is serious about balancing the budget and reducing the deficit, but I’m not sure that he is really serious about reducing medical costs for Medicare recipients. If he were, why did he vote against the H.R. 4 – Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2007 that would have required the Secretary of Health and Human Services to to negotiate prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies on behalf of Medicare recipients enrolled in Medicare Part D. The Veterans Administration now negotiates with pharmaceutical corporations and realizes tremendous savings by doing so, but Medicare is prevented by law from doing so because of the ban imposed in 2003 by the Republican legislature in the George W. Bush prescription drug plan.