Rick Santorum: Medicare Is ‘Crushing’ The ‘Entire Health Care System In This Country’

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"Rick Santorum: Medicare Is ‘Crushing’ The ‘Entire Health Care System In This Country’"

Last month, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney both enthusiastically endorsed Sen. Ron Wyden’s (D-OR) and Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) Medicare premium support plan — a wonky middle-ground between Ryan’s goal of complete Medicare privatization and the Democrats’ reliance on the growing market power of traditional Medicare to drive innovation in the health care system. Under the proposal, seniors would receive a voucher to purchase insurance from an exchange of private plans or Medicare.

During a town hall event in Iowa yesterday, surging GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum threw his support behind Wyden/Ryan plan, but bemoaned its key compromise — the provision to preserve traditional Medicare:

SANTORUM: One of the things I liked about the Ryan/Wyden plan and why I’ve endorsed it — even though I have a problem with the public option part that Ron Wyden has insisted on, it is a plan that says innovation with insurance companies and consumers drive down costs, instead of having this government-run Medicare system. […] You have Medicare driving the entire health care system in this country and it’s crushing it.

Watch it:

Santorum is a strong supporter of Ryan’s original Medicare privatization scheme to completely eliminate traditional Medicare as an option for seniors and has promised to accelerate its implementation. Medicare, however, has a better track record of controlling health care costs than private insurers and has introduced market innovations and payment reforms that private plans later adopted. Medicare’s smaller administrative spending and its ability to use its sheer size and clout to bargain for cheaper services explain this advantage. In fact, “if Medicare costs had risen as fast as private insurance premiums, it would cost around 40 percent more than it does. If private insurers had done as well as Medicare at controlling costs, insurance would be a lot cheaper.”

Scott Keyes contributed to this report from Iowa.

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