Rep. Ryan Fills Health Care Op-Ed With Distortions

March 15, 2010 1:38 pm ET

On March 15, 2010, Rep. Paul Ryan published a wildly misleading op-ed in the Washington Post.  In it, he uses false attacks to smear the Democratic plan to reform health care and lies about the would-be effects of two of his own proposals, the Patients' Choice Act and Roadmap for America's Future.

Democratic Health Care Reform Lowers Costs For Families

Rep. Paul Ryan:

Through any analytical lens, the legislation will not address the central problem of skyrocketing health-care costs. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that families' premiums could rise 10 to 13 percent; private-sector actuarial estimates top these already high numbers. [Rep. Paul Ryan op-ed in the Washington Post, 3/15/10]

The Democratic plan lowers costs and allows Americans to purchase better coverage.

ABC News: For "Americans Who Get Their Insurance From Their Employers, CBO Says Premiums Would Be 'Zero To Three Percent' Lower." According to ABC News:

CBO cites the combination of three factors: 

1. Premiums would be 27-30% higher because coverage would be better. The law, for example, requires that all policies cover maternity care, prescription drugs, mental health & substance abuse and no denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions.

2. Premiums would be 7 to 10 percent lower b/c of changes to the way the individual market is structured.

3. Premiums would be 7 to 10 percent lower b/c of an influx of more people, many of them healthy, into the insurance market.


The bill also includes generous subsidies for families with incomes under $88,000.  Those who get taxpayer subsidies would see their out-of-pocket premium cost reduced by "roughly 56 to 59 percent."  And 57 percent of those in the individual market would be eligible for subsidies.

[...] For the much larger group of Americans who get their insurance from their employers, CBO says premiums would be "zero to three percent" lower than under current law. [ABC News, 2/25/10; emphasis added]

PolitiFact: "For Most People, Premiums Would Stay About The Same, Or Slightly Decrease."  According to "The CBO reported that, for most people, premiums would stay about the same, or slightly decrease. This was especially true for people who get their insurance through work. (Health policy wonks call these the large group and small group markets.) People who have to go out and buy insurance on their own (the individual market) would see rates increase by 10 to 13 percent. But more than half of those people -- 57 percent, in fact -- would be eligible for subsidies to help them pay for the insurance. People who get subsidies would see their premiums drop by more than half, according to the CBO. So most people would see their premiums stay the same or potentially drop." [, 1/27/10; emphasis added]

CBO: House Bill Will Result In Lower Costs For American Families.  The Congressional Budget Office estimated that in 2016, premiums will be $5,300 for an individual and $15,000 for a family of four in the Exchange.  Without reform, the average family premium is expected to grow to $24,000. [CBO, 11/2/09; House Education and Labor Committee, 11/2/09]

Democratic Health Care Reform Will Create Millions Of Jobs

Rep. Paul Ryan:

This legislation includes a range of job-killing tax hikes and controls on all Americans -- to fund this new entitlement and to penalize employers and individuals who don't play by Washington's new rules. [Rep. Paul Ryan op-ed in the Washington Post, 3/15/10]

Health Care Reform Will Create Up To 4 Million American Jobs In The Next Decade. According to the Center for American Progress, "Relative to baseline employment forecasts from the Employment Projections Program at the U.S. Department of Labor, we estimate that moderate medical savings from health care modernization as envisioned under the legislation now before Congress would lead to an average of 250,000 additional jobs created annually. Under the larger assumption about savings due to health care reform, 400,000 new jobs a year would be created on average." [Center for American Progress, New Jobs Through Better Health Care, January 2010]

Health Care Reform Would Create Over 7,000 Jobs In Rep. Ryan's Home State of Wisconsin.  According to the Center for American Progress, "the reduction in health insurance premiums caused by health care reform would create" up to 7,144 jobs in Rep. Paul Ryan's home state of Wisconsin.

[Center for American Progress, 2/24/10]

Rep. Ryan's Patients' Choice Act Would Not Cover The Uninsured

Rep. Paul Ryan:

House Republicans continue to offer common-sense solutions, with specific legislation. Last May, Sens. Tom Coburn and Richard Burr and Rep. Devin Nunes and I collaborated to address rising costs while securing access to quality, affordable health coverage for all Americans. [Rep. Paul Ryan op-ed in the Washington Post, 3/15/10]

Rep. Paul Ryan's Bill Offers Families $5,710 Tax Credits. According to Rep. Paul Ryan's Patient's Choice Act of 2009: "The Patient's Choice Act of 2009 would restore equity in the tax code and give every American, regardless of employment status, the ability to purchase health insurance by: Providing an advanceable and refundable tax credit of $2,290 per individual or $5,710 per family." [Patients Choice Act, 4/09, emphasis added]

  • The Average Family's Premiums Are Currently Over $12,000. According to the National Health Care Coalition: "The annual premium for an employer health plan covering a family of four averaged nearly $12,700. The annual premium for single coverage averaged over $4,700." [, accessed 5/19/09; emphasis added]
  • The Average Family's Premiums Will Reach $24,000 By 2016.  According to the New America Foundation, "As health care costs continue to grow faster than wages, health insurance will become more and more unaffordable for more and more American families every day. The financial burdens associated with health care and health insurance will only get worse over time without action. The cost of the average employer-sponsored health insurance plan (ESI) for a family will reach $24,000 in 2016. This represents an 84 percent increase over 2008 premium levels. Under this scenario, we estimate that at least half of American households will need to spend more than 45 percent of their income to buy health insurance in 2016." [New America Foundation, November 2008]

The Truth About Rep. Ryan's "Roadmap for America's Future"

Rep. Paul Ryan:

This year I re-introduced my own proposals to tackle our entitlement crisis head-on. My plan, "A Roadmap for America's Future," fulfills the mission of health and retirement security, lifts our crushing burden of debt, and spurs economic growth and job creation. In stark contrast to the vision being pushed by the majority in Congress, my plan unapologetically seeks to apply our nation's timeless principles -- our Founders' commitment to individual liberty, limited government and free enterprise -- to today's challenges. It does so in a way that honors our historic commitment to strengthening the social safety net for those who need it most. [Rep. Paul Ryan op-ed in the Washington Post, 3/15/10]

Tax Policy Center: Ryan's Roadmap Is "Highly Regressive," Would Shift Tax Burden To The Middle Class.  According to the Tax Policy Center:

The Roadmap's tax provisions would be highly regressive compared with the current tax system. Relative to current law-and assuming that taxpayers choose their preferred tax system-the Roadmap would reduce taxes for most people, but the largest reductions would go to those with the highest incomes. After-tax income would rise by 1.5 percent for households in the bottom quintile (the 20 percent with the lowest incomes) but change little for the next two quintiles and go up just 0.6 percent for the fourth quintile. In sharp contrast, the top quintile would see their after-tax income jump 11 percent. Within that group, the top 1 percent would gain an average of 26 percent and the top 0.1 percent a whopping 36 percent. The share of total taxes paid by the bottom 80 percent would rise from 35 percent to 42 percent, while the share paid by the top 1 percent would fall by nearly half from 25 percent to 13.5 percent.

Taxpayers at the top of the income distribution gain most because they get the bulk of capital income, which the Roadmap would exempt from taxation. The change in average tax rates reflects that situation. While average rates would change little among the bottom 80 percent, they would fall dramatically at the top. For example, the average tax rate for the top 0.1 percent would plummet from 30 percent under current law to just 11 percent under the Roadmap. [Tax Policy Center, 3/9/10; emphasis added]

Rep. Ryan's Budget Privatizes Social Security. According to the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of Rep. Paul Ryan's "Roadmap for America's Future" budget proposal: "A system of individual accounts would be established in 2012. In that year, workers who are age 55 or younger would be able to participate in voluntary individual accounts, funded with a portion of their payroll taxes. As necessary, the government would make payments to account holders during their retirement to guarantee that their contributions earned a rate of return at least equal to the rate of inflation." [Congressional Budget Office, 1/27/10]

Rep. Ryan's Budget Cuts Social Security Benefits.  According to the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of Rep. Paul Ryan's "Roadmap for America's Future" budget proposal: "Traditional retirement benefits would be reduced below those scheduled under current law for many workers who are age 55 or younger in 2011. People with lower earnings would experience smaller reductions in benefits, and those with higher earnings would experience larger reductions. Current beneficiaries and workers who are age 55 or older in 2010 would experience no change in benefits." [Congressional Budget Office, 1/27/10]

Rep. Ryan's Budget Raises Medicare Premiums & Cuts Benefits. According to the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of Rep. Paul Ryan's "Roadmap for America's Future" budget proposal: "People who are age 65 or older in 2020 and other existing enrollees at that time would continue to be covered by the current program, although some higher-income enrollees would pay higher premiums, and some program payments would be reduced." [Congressional Budget Office, 1/27/10]