Is Paul Ryan The Most Influential Person In Health Care?

Modern Healthcare is out with its annual list of 100 influential people and up top sits House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), who successfully managed to shift the public health care conversation towards privatization and cost shifting to the beneficiary. That placement is questionable, particularly since it argues that Ryan is more influential than HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and President Obama, both of whom are responsible for pushing through and implementing the biggest health care changes in American history. The top six look like this:

1. Paul Ryan
U.S. representative (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Budget Committee, Washington

2. Peter Shumlin
Governor, state of Vermont, Montpelior

3. Barack Obama
President of the United States, Washington

4. Donald Berwick
Administrator, CMS, Washington

5. Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary, HHS, Washington

6. Newt Gingrich
Founder, Center for Health Transformation, Washington; former House speaker

Part of me thinks these lists are designed to trigger controversy, another believes that there is a point to the argument that Ryan has successfully transformed the “cost control” conversation to one about vouchers and for that he probably deserves some recognition. But his success only speaks to the failure of progressives in clearly articulating how the cost control provisions in the Affordable Care Act work to reduce the rate of health care spending, how new payment and delivery models encourage doctors and hospitals to provide more efficient care and how a greater investment in medical research will help the government determine which ineffective treatments it shouldn’t pay for. So if Ryan is influential this year, health care reform advocates have all the more reason to make sure he’s not next year.