In covering the Medicare debate, reporters should remember two Ryan budgets had different proposals

Anyone think Medicare will fall out of the news this election cycle?

Not likely. And at the center of the Medicare debate is, of course, Paul Ryan’s proposals, as outlined in his two budgets approved by the House of Representatives.

Not the word “two.”

Ryan’s first budget, in 2011, ended Medicare for people under 55, replacing it with a voucher system, giving seniors a fixed amount of money to buy their own health insurance.

His second proposal, this year, differs from his 2011 proposal, as it includes Medicare as an option, among private insurance plans. Seniors could spend their voucher on Medicare or a list of approved health-insurance plans.

As reporters evaluate claims about Medicare, they need to be sure to distinguish between the two Ryan plans, without ignoring either one of them.

For example, a recent ad from Joe Miklosi states that his opponent, Rep. Mike Coffman, “wants to end Medicare.”

Fact checkers at The Denver Post and 9News found this be false, without qualifications, even though Coffman voted for Paul Ryan’s budget last year (which eliminated Medicare for those under 55) and this year (which offers it as an option, for voucher use, with an uncertain price tag).

In Aug., ABC News’ The Note, summarized the 2011 Ryan plan this way:

Critics have called Ryan’s 2011 proposal the “end of Medicare as we know it,” and that’s true. Until now, Medicare has operated as a “fee-for-service” system; under Ryan’s plan, it would operate more like a voucher system, although Ryan and his aides have resisted this term. Medicare would cease to pay for health services directly, instead operating as a board that approves a menu of health plans for public sale and doles out predetermined lumps of money to people enrolled in Medicare, to help them buy those plans.

The Note points out that Ryan’s 2012 plan “made major revisions, including a provision like Democrats’ ‘public option,’ where seniors could opt out of Ryan’s most basic change altogether, enrolling in Medicare as a fee-for-service program that would continue to pay directly for care.” also does a decent job of comparing the two versions of Ryan’s Medicare proposal.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.