RepresentativeÂ Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, has attracted much attention with his plan to reformÂ Medicare. He proposes replacing the current fee-for-service program, in which the government picks up the bill for medical expenses, with a â€œpremium-supportâ€ system in which seniors use federal dollars to choose among competing privateÂ insurance plans.
Democratic critics of the plan suggest that enacting it would be akin to pushing Grandma over a cliff. But they rarely point out that the premium-support model is in some ways similar to the system set up underÂ President Obamaâ€™s health care law. If choosing among competing private plans on a government-regulated exchange is a good idea for someone at age 50, why is it so horrific for someone who is 70?
Hummm … let’s see … that’s a hard one … gimme a second …
Maybe – possibly – because subsidized access to the private insurance market is better than nothing but not as good as Medicare?
The most valuable lesson economics teaches isn’t a proposition, it’s a question: Â “Compared to what?” Providing subsidized access to the health insurance market to those who had nothing was progress; pushing people who have Medicare back into the insurance market would be regress.
No, of course Mankiw isn’t that stupid. He just hopes you are. And this is a senior intellectual adviser to the official “moderate” Republican candidate for President. And a tenured professor at Harvard. Feh.