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Life Health > Health Insurance > Your Practice

Paul Ryan, Romney's Running Mate: Health Account Backer

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Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney has picked Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., a longtime supporter of personal account programs, to be his running mate.

Romney, the founder and former chairman of Bain Capital, Boston and a former governor of Massachusetts, announced the decision today at a press conference in Norfolk, Va.,

Romney touched on Medicare and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (2010) during his speech announcing that Ryan is his pick for vice president.

“Unlike the current president who has cut Medicare funding by $700 billion, we will preserve and protect Medicare and Social Security,” Romney said. “Under the current president, health care has only become more expensive.  We will reform health care so that more Americans have access to affordable health care, and we will get that started by repealing and replacing Obamacare.”

The Romney campaign mentions health care issues only in passing in a description of Ryan posted on its website.

While serving on the House Ways and Means Committee, Ryan has focused on “simplifying the tax code and making health care more affordable and accessible,” the campaign says.

Ryan himself said nothing directly about Medicare or health care during his own speech in Norfolk.

Ryan, who is in his seventh term in Congress, was born Jan. 29, 1970, in Janesville, Wis. His father, Paul Ryan Sr., was a lawyer. Rya Sr. died of a heart attack when Ryan was 16.

Ryan has a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from Miami University in Ohio. Before he entered Congress, at the age of 28, he served as an aide to other members of Congress and as a speechwriter for William Bennett while Bennett was education secretary.

LifeHealthPro, its predecessor websites and the print publications that feed into it have mentioned Ryan more than 50 times over the years.

LifeHealthPro first mentioned Ryan when we covered his support for a proposal to add a semiprivate account program to Social Security. The accounts would have been owned by individual workers and invested in Treasury securities.

LifeHealthPro later talked about Ryan’s participation efforts to support the health savings account (HSA) program.

In recent years, Ryan has worked with Alice Rivlin, a former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Clinton, to develop a Medicare reform proposal that might rely in part on a new Medicare medical savings account program and enrollee efforts to buy Medicare coverage through a multi-carrier exchange program that would involve stiffer competition than the current Medicare Advantage program does.

Ryan has said that the current approach to running Medicare is unsustainable.

“Yes, we are giving (Democrats) a political weapon to go against us (in the next election),” Ryan said in 2011, during an appearance on Fox News. ”But they will have to lie and demagogue to make it a weapon. Shame on them. We can’t keep kicking the can down the road.”

Democrats say Ryan’s approach to reforming Medicare would hurt seniors, by causing the resources they have to pay for care to fall further and further behind the cost of care, and that he his proposing cuts in Medicare benefits at the same time that he and Republican colleagues are proposing tax breaks and tax break extensions that would mainly benefit high-income taxpayers and taxpayers with large amounts of wealth.

The Obama reelection campaign talks about Ryan’s positions on taxes and Medicare on its website.

“Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney both support trillions in budget-busting tax cuts for millionaires that will result in tax hikes on the middle class and deep cuts in education and other investments we need to grow,” the campaign says. “Ryan’s extreme budget plan, which Mitt Romney has embraced, would make deep spending cuts now to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy, which would weaken the recovery and cost the economy jobs.”

Elsewhere, the Obama campaign says, “Paul Ryan’s extreme budget would end Medicare as we know it, turning it into a voucher program which would increase seniors’ health costs by $6,350 a year. Ryan has also proposed a plan that would have privatized Social Security, subjecting seniors’ retirement security to the whims of the stock market.”


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