Paul Ryan is to long term care as acetone is to nail polish

Paul Ryan is to long term care as acetone is to nail polish

Mark Parkinson, former Republican representative and Governor of Kansas, now the president and chief executive officer of the American Health Care Association was quoted as saying about Paul Ryan, the newly elected Speaker of the House of Representatives, “Our members have enjoyed a good working relationship with Speaker Ryan” in a recent post in Provider Nation – the  AHCA/NCAL’s newsletter.

Paul Ryan is the man who gave us “The Path to Prosperity” the paradoxically labelled draconian budget plan in 2013 (warmed over from 2010) that would have cut social services more severely than any sitting representative has ever dared to propose. Ryan’s blueprint includes “…40 percent cuts in transportation and education spending, and 24 percent cuts to veterans’ programs, among others. Medicare and Social Security would also face “reform” under the Ryan plan. Medicare beneficiaries, for example, would … purchase private health insurance coverage starting in 2023. Ryan’s proposal could also mean that 44 million fewer people would be covered under Medicaid.” (Huffington Post, 8/13/2012).

Is there a problem here? Is this the former wolf convincing the sheep that they have a “…good working relationship” with another wolf? Or is this the necessary political positioning of a leader who must make conciliatory statements about those whom he finds in power for the sake of his constituency?

I understand why associations want to select, appoint and elect politicians – they can often achieve regulatory and legislative feats that none of us mere mortal constituents know how to accomplish. But here we have the very, very dangerous “reductio ad absurdum”. Please be clear – Paul Ryan is to long term care as acetone is to finger nail polish. No amount of posturing will change Rep. Ryan’s fiscal and monetary astringency. And the litmus test for Mr. Parkinson’s Democratic conversion is imminent. Will he revert, as I fear the recent piece in the Provider Nation suggests, to a politician, or fight with, and defend those he is being paid to represent;  the providers who care for the most vulnerable, many of whom depend on the very benefits that Mr. Ryan sees as expendable.

Which is it?