Medicare is so complicated. It's resisted reform just because most people find it intimidating to understand. But elected officials on both sides of the aisle finally agree there is a problem. Even fans of certain parts of Obamacare -- like laws that prevent insurers from refusing to cover patients with pre-existing conditions -- acknowledge that Obamacare overall is highly flawed. Further reform is needed because if compensation costs continue to spiral the way they have in recent years, funding will dry up. It really isn't a question of whether Medicare needs to be reformed but how and when.
It's too soon to tell if Paul Ryan's plan to put control in the hands of the patient by issuing vouchers to buy their own coverage will work. But it's the best plan we've seen so far. Right now, hospitals and doctors are paid regardless of the quality of care they provide. Under the Ryan plan, providers wouldn't be turning to Uncle Sam for their bread and butter, but to the actual customers -- their patients.
By putting control in patients' hands, you hopefully force providers to compete for their health care dollars. Under President Barack Obama's Obamacare, compensation to providers is dictated by a panel of experts who would set price controls. Unfortunately, that could lead to providers making up the difference by charging non-Medicare patients more.
We need to take the fear out of the equation that is being promoted by Democrats in one attack ad after the other. Remember the elderly woman in a wheelchair being pushed off a cliff? Yeah, like that. Where are the Republican response ads explaining that the poor and sickly would be allocated more money than other claimants under Ryan's voucher system?
It's also important to point out that the plan is changing and being tweaked leading up to the 2012 election. There is talk of making the voucher system optional. Mitt Romney's pick of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate doesn't necessarily mean he's endorsing Ryan's "Roadmap for America's Future." It's just a starting point. So dial in, listen closely, and stay tuned. It's critical.
This post is part of a weekly conversation with our Moms Matter 2012 political bloggers. To see the original question and what the other writers have to say, see Should Medicare Be Replaced by Subsidies?
Image via Mitt Romney/Flickr