Because lawmakers have voted to cancel the annually-scheduled cuts, physician reimbursement rates are set to plunge by almost 30 percent next year. That’s the cut that the Post notes Congress intends to avoid with the latest version of what’s now called “Doc fix” legislation. But, again: why change the policy every year at the last minute? All year long lawmakers pretend they intend to change Medicare, and they end up not only preserving it, but making it more expensive.
Here’s an idea. Instead of simply passing “Doc fix” year in and year out, let’s actually fix the problem by “bending the cost curve” and holding down Medicare expenses.
Earlier this year, Rep. Paul Ryan introduced a plan that would transform Medicare for anyone under the age of 54. When these people retired, they’d be given a voucher that would be used to buy private insurance.
It’s a solid idea. Retirees could pick and choose what plan would work best for them. They’d have a personal involvement in their health care, and in holding down costs. As for whether these retirees could actually handle the responsibility, remember that they’ve been buying and selling things: houses, cars, food, all their lives. They’ve raised children, held jobs, planned weddings, run businesses. They’re certainly capable of selecting a plan that provides for their health care needs.
These plans don’t exist yet, of course. But they’d spring up if people actually had Medicare vouchers to spend. And the price competition would hold costs down much more efficiently than Congress’ failed spending caps have.
The federal government can’t go on borrowing almost half of what it spends today from tomorrow’s taxpayers. We need to change course, before an iron law of economics crushes us the way it’s already crushing democracies in Europe.