While she opposes the short-term budget agreement to cut $38.5 billion in spending for the remainder of 2011 as insufficient, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has touted Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget as a real way to cut spending and reign-in the growth of Medicare and Medicaid. “The Ryan budget can be called the 55 and under plan because the goal is to secure and save Medicare, ” Bachmann told me on Monday in Iowa. “We want to save it, we want to secure it. It’s on a collision course right now with bankruptcy. The Ryan plan seeks to do exactly that.”
But this morning, during an appearance on NBC’s Today, Bachmann said she was unfamiliar with the consequences of Ryan’s proposal to voucherize the Medicare program in 2022. Pressed by Matt Lauer about the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) report that seniors would have to pay twice as much for health care if they were given vouchers to buy private insurance, Bachmann said she has not yet read the CBO report:
LAUER: The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says when they look at the plan they think in the long term this will cause people to actually pay much more of their own health care costs out of their own pocket. Do you agree with that?
BACHMANN: Well, I’ll have to look at that study and I’ll have to look at that report. I can’t comment on it because I haven’t read that study. But I think certainly going forward it’s important for us to understand that individualism, personal responsibility have always been a bedrock of this country. And when we move away from that our budgets get in trouble.
The CBO found that “under the proposal, most elderly people would pay more for their health care than they would pay under the current Medicare system” partly because private insurers have higher administrative costs than traditional Medicare. As the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) demonstrates, in 2022, the first year the voucher would apply, CBO estimates that total health care expenditures for a typical 65-year-old “would be almost 40 percent higher with private coverage under the Ryan plan than they would be with a continuation of traditional Medicare”:
But unfortunately, Bachmann hasn’t actually bothered to read about the effects of the policies she advocates.