Ryan’s Budget Proposal Would Aid Insurers, a Top Source of Campaign Cash
Representative Paul Ryan’s budget proposal to end traditional Medicare for future generations would benefit private insurers, whose employees have given the Wisconsin Republican more money than any other industry.
Ryan has received $672,203 from insurance employees and their families since 1997, his largest industry source of campaign donations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington research group. The figure includes all insurers, not just health-insurance companies. Employees of Blue Cross/Blue Shield companies and their trade group gave $48,650, his ninth-largest individual source of funds.
His proposal would transform Medicare, the federal health- care program for senior citizens, for all Americans now 54 and under. Under his budget plan released yesterday, the government would provide subsidies for the purchase of private insurance.
“It’s a windfall for the private health-insurance industry,” said Ethan Rome, executive director of Health Care for America Now, a Washington-based advocacy group that supports President Barack Obama’s health-care law. “It trades the guaranteed health benefits for vouchers that go directly to private health-insurance companies.”
Bringing private insurers into Medicare is crucial to holding down costs and reducing the federal budget deficit, Ryan said today.
“If you do not address health care, you do not fix the budget,” Ryan said on Bloomberg Television. “We want a bunch of providers competing against each other for our business. That gets rid of waste, increases productivity, and is better for the beneficiary.”
Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, a Washington-based trade group, said the industry had a “proven track record” of providing quality care under Medicare.
In a statement, he said the group wants to work “with members of Congress in both parties to improve the quality and safety of patient care and to help put these critically important programs on sustainable and fiscally responsible paths.”