During a speech at the Hoover Institution today, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) stood up for Mitt Romney’s efforts to distance Massachusetts’ 2006 health law from Obama’s very similar Affordable Care Act, saying “I think he’s doing the best he can…he’s been pretty clear on how he doesn’t think the president’s health care law works.” But Ryan also claimed, “I’m not a fan of the individual mandate, I don’t think they work. I’m not sure how I would counsel him to defend Romneycare.” Watch it:
But Ryan has more in common with Romney’s Massachusetts health care plan than he probably cares to admit. Shortly after Ryan unveiled his plan to introduce “premium support” into the Medicare system, progressives argued that it includes its own individual mandate, requiring future retirees to purchase coverage from an exchange of private insurers. As Simon Lazarus explained back in May, “Medicare taxes are mandatory, whether workers want to buy eligibility for old-age vouchers or not” and even if an individual opts out of using Ryan’s “premium support’” to purchase private coverage, he or she forfeits all of the taxes paid into the system.
In fact, during a more honest town hall on April 29th, in Racine, Wisconsin, Ryan admitted that his plan includes a mandate:
Q: If Medicare becomes a voucher program, would you require seniors to purchase private insurance and if so isn’t that an individual mandate? If you will not require them to purchase insurance how do you propose to prevent a situation where the costs of uninsured seniors is very expensive and gets passed on to me as a private policy holder? [...]
RYAN: Its mandate works no different than how the current Medicare law works today, which is you just select from a wide range of different plans. It literally would be like Medicare Advantage…
Interestingly, Romney’s own national health care plan is very similar to Ryan’s ‘Roadmap For America’s Future‘ and the Massachusetts governor has praised Ryan’s Medicare proposal, suggesting that the two Republican leaders may yet work together on the issue…in one way or another.