From this Christmas Sunday's Meet the Press, apparently Tom Brokaw was terribly upset that Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Paul Ryan haven't garnered more attention for teaming up and proposing to partially privatize Medicare.
I'm pretty sure Brokaw has enough money to self-insure and will never have to worry about whether he can afford to pay his medical bills. Maybe that explains why he seems to have so little concern for the seniors who would see their costs go up as Dave Dayden explained here -- Ryan Teams with Wyden on New Plan for Medicare:
I’ve heard a few people say that this is the exchanges with a public option, and that’s not all wrong. But there’s a difference between imposing exchanges with a public option on the individual market and imposing it on a working single payer system. The former would be a step forward; the latter is a step backward. This fractures the market for seniors, and any smaller pool would raise overall costs. This degrades the market, by replacing a more efficient program with this Rube Goldberg approach. Ryan and Wyden bend over backwards to claim that the premium support would be robust enough, and that nobody would be discriminated against, and all the rest. If that’s the case, why make the change at all? Ryan and Wyden would say that competition is the reason: that putting private insurance companies in competition with Medicare would lower the cost. The experience of Medicare Advantage shows just the opposite; the costs of Medicare Advantage are rising. Similarly, in the individual market, where companies allegedly compete with one another right now, costs rise much higher than in Medicare. Health care just isn’t the same kind of market from the laissez-faire capitalism textbooks. The invisible hand doesn’t deliver the same results when someone is sick and needs a doctor right away.
And here's more from Dave on Wyden and why he teamed up with Ryan in the first place:
Why is Wyden involved in this? First of all, he has a history of partnering with Republicans on health care issues; remember Wyden-Bennett? Second, the plan includes his Free Choice Act, the option whereby employees can take the money their employer used to purchase health insurance and buy their own coverage tax-free. This is a form of Wyden-Bennett that could open the exchanges to many more workers. It doesn’t put a public option there, but it’s probably a small positive.
From a political standpoint, I don’t know why you would bail out Paul Ryan, although the early coverage makes it look like he caved by keeping regular Medicare alive. Democrats will probably run the same ads on the Ryan plan to end Medicare. But they will have lost their bite. Republicans will say that Ryan has a new plan, and even Democrats agree with it. They may not even endorse the plan. But it gives them an out.
UPDATE: A bit more here, though I’m sure Jon Walker will add on. The budget cap is at GDP +1%. That’s much better than CPI + 1% from the original Ryan plan. But it’s still above where Medicare is at now. There are ways to reduce the cost of Medicare, and I can think of a few of them that wouldn’t impact patients. Allowing negotiation for prescription drugs is one, and new payment delivery systems are another. So is opening up the medical profession to free trade, allowing qualified, lower-cost providers abroad to provide service. I doubt that Ryan has any of these in mind.
Transcript via NBC:
GREGORY: Can I just add to this? I would be remiss, our producer, Chris Donovan, found this terrific piece of tape that is so on point here that I have to play it. It's about the 1990s argument and something that then Senator Obama said back in November of 2007. If we have that, we'll show it.
(Videotape, November 10, 2007)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): I don't want to spend the next year or the next four years refighting the same fights that we had in the 1990s.
GREGORY: Bingo. Tom Brokaw, but isn't that the problem is that we still are fighting those fight?
BROKAW: Well, it's a political year. I mean, part of the reason that we're not going to make a lot of progress this year is that it's all about who gets the White House back. Everyone knows that that's the great machine that moves the government and defines the culture in this country. And it's fairly discouraging given all that is going on in the world and the decisions that we have to make that you can't operate on two different tracks, that you can have the big vigorous political debate; but, at the same time, have something like what's happened this past week with Congressman Ryan and, and Senator Wyden saying, "Hey, here's something to look at when it comes to Medicare." I found that the most disheartening development in the week in, in many ways. It's not perfect, but it's--kick-starts that debate that is absolutely necessary to the future of this country in terms of entitlements and who gets them and how much we pay for them. And it was lost in the cacophony of everything else, and that's the issue, I think.
Yes, it's terribly "disheartening" that we've been talking about something besides the Villagers favorite memes... deficit fetishism and austerity measures. Heaven forbid anyone's talking about jobs, the economy, the unemployed, income disparity and whether the rich are paying their fair share of taxes. The horror.