Further Note on Ryan’s Reply

by Reihan Salam

I have no idea if Rep. Paul Ryan’s reply to President Obama’s AP speech will get any attention, but this section merits it:

CLAIM: “Seniors bear the risk. If the voucher isn’t enough to buy a private plan with the specific doctors and care that you need, that’s too bad.”

REALITY: Incorrect: If Medicare spending grows faster than GDP + 0.5 percent – the same growth rate that the President has proposed for his board of 15 unaccountable bureaucrats (IPAB) to impose upon Medicare – then Congress would be required to intervene and could implement policies that change provider reimbursements, program overhead, and means-tested premiums. Under our plan, the entire risk would not fall on the beneficiary – Congress would be required to act. Under the President’s plan, the entire risk of IPAB’s cuts – which Medicare’s own chief actuary has said could “jeopardize access to care for beneficiaries” – would fall on the senior unless a supermajority of Congress voted to intervene. [Emphasis added]

It’s amazing. The president is literally replying to an entirely different Medicare reform proposal — perhaps to some version of Ryan’s FY2012 Medicare reform proposal — than the one the House Budget Committee advanced this year. 

One has to wonder: who was responsible for writing and fact-checking this speech? Ultimately, I suspect these errors will be immaterial, unless, that is, prominent national media outlets actually report on them.