Mr. Obama wants to expand the power of the 15-member panel, which was created by the new health care law, to rein in Medicare costs ... Under the law, spending cuts recommended by the presidentially appointed panel would take effect automatically unless Congress voted to block or change them. In general, federal courts could not review actions to carry out the board’s recommendations. The impact of the board’s decisions could be magnified because private insurers often use Medicare rates as a guide or a benchmark in paying doctors, hospitals and other providers. Last week, in his speech on deficit reduction, Mr. Obama said he wanted to beef up the board’s cost-cutting powers in unspecified ways should the growth of Medicare spending exceed certain goals. Supporters say the board will be able to make tough decisions because it will be largely insulated from legislative politics. Lawmakers do not agree. Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin and chairman of the House Budget Committee, called it “a rationing board” and said Congress should not “delegate Medicare decision-making to 15 people appointed by the president.” He said Mr. Obama’s proposal would allow the board to “impose more price controls and more limitations on providers, which will end up cutting services to seniors.”
Paul Krugman notes:
Arguably the most important thing we can do to limit the growth in health care costs is learning to say no; we cannot afford a system in which Medicare in particular will pay for anything, especially when that’s combined with an industry structure that gives providers a strong financial incentive to engage in excessive care ... Mainly the attack is coming from Republicans, who want to dismantle Medicare, not save it — their proposal is that instead of having Medicare make choices based on expert advice, we should give seniors inadequate vouchers and let insurance company executives make those choices instead.
In other words, Congressman Ryan has an alternative rationing system – the free market. If you have little income and virtually no assistance from the Federal government, the price rationing system would basically tell you that you are not entitled to any health care services. Something tells me this is exactly the kind of society Congressman Ryan seeks. But would the rest of us agree with him if he were just honest enough to say so?