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Is it fair to call Paul Ryan's Medicare plan 'Vouchercare'?
The New York Times' Paul Krugman rips the GOP over their gripe that labeling Ryan's Medicare proposal a voucher plan is unfair demagoguery. Well, is it?
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
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epublicans get "huffy" when you call Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) controversial Medicare plan a voucher scheme, says Paul Krugman in The New York Times. But pointing out that they are trying to replace Medicare with "an entirely different program — call it Vouchercare" — isn't "demagoguery, it's just pointing out the truth." Is that a fair characterization of the GOP-backed Medicare plan?

Of course "Vouchercare" is fair game: Liberals say some dumb things about Ryan's plan, but it's Ryan who's being "deeply disingenuous" in insisting that his plan offers "premium support," not "vouchers," says Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler. You can see why: "The term 'voucher' tends to poll poorly," while nobody knows exactly what premium support is. But the end result is the same: "Grossly inadequate" subsidies that make health care unaffordable for seniors.
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The GOP should defend vouchers: If we're going to save Medicare, we need to "rise above cheap political rhetoric," says Robert Samuelson in The Washington Post. The key to Ryan's plan is that "suddenly empowered" Medicare consumers will use their vouchers to shop for high-quality, lower cost plans, with competition driving down health care costs. That may be "shock therapy," but Ryan's "radicalism" will do more to keep Medicare solvent than Democrats' "tinkering."
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Ryan has a point... sort of: Ryan's plan shares characteristics with both premium support and vouchers, says Rick Ungar at Forbes. It's true that, like premium support, Ryan's version of Medicare would directly pay insurance companies, not Medicare beneficiaries. But with true premium support, the payments go up in lockstep with rising premiums. In Ryan's plan, the payments rise much slower, shifting the costs onto seniors. And "this, by anyone's definition, is a voucher program."
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