Everything you need to know about Ryan’s Medicare plan in one sentence

In a speech attempting to defend his widely panned budget plan – even Newt Gingrich called it radical – U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., revealed perhaps more than he intended about his attitude toward his main target: Medicare.

As he discussed the steps he believes are necessary to keep Medicare solvent and that he believes will rein in health care costs, he said this: “As we strengthen welfare for those who need it, we propose to end it for those who don’t.”


Most seniors, who have been paying into Medicare their entire lives, do not consider Medicare coverage “welfare.” Redefining it as such, which – like similar attempts with Social Security – makes it easier to cut a program that just about every senior citizen depends upon today. Ryan’s plan would turn a single-payer plan that guarantees coverage into a privatized voucher program that guarantees seniors will pay far more for health care coverage than they do now. Somehow, this is supposed to lower costs – though his plan depends on the willingness of the insurance industry to cover the oldest, sickest, poorest segment of the population.

Medicare is not welfare. It is a plan to cover those private insurance doesn’t want to cover. It is in trouble mainly because health care costs are rising out of control. Ryan’s solution will do absolutely nothing to rein in those costs. Instead, it will shift them onto those in our society who can least afford them.

Gingrich was right to call this plan “radical” and “right-wing social engineering.”

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