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Seriously, Some Consensus About Health Care

We are entering the season of polarization. With various Republicans vying to replace Barack Obama, the president eager to keep his job, and both the House and the Senate up for grabs, candidates from both sides of the aisle will spend the next year and a half stressing their differences.

But beneath this veneer of partisanship lie a few fundamental agreements. Consider health care, which will be at the center of the political debate. Here are four aspects of the issue in which Republicans and Democrats have stumbled into consensus.

THE VALUE OF COMPETITION Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, has attracted much attention with his plan to reform Medicare. He proposes replacing the current fee-for-service program, in which the government picks up the bill for medical expenses, with a “premium-support” system in which seniors use federal dollars to choose among competing private insurance plans.

Democratic critics of the plan suggest that enacting it would be akin to pushing Grandma over a cliff. But they rarely point out that the premium-support model is in some ways similar to the system set up under President Obama’s health care law. If choosing among competing private plans on a government-regulated exchange is a good idea for someone at age 50, why is it so horrific for someone who is 70?

Republicans, meanwhile, are eager to repeal Obamacare and so are also reluctant to point out its parallels with Ryancare. We can take heart, however, in the kernel of agreement about the value of private competition.

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