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Senior Citizen Politics

Senior Advocates No Happier with Ryan’s New GOP Budget Than Last Year’s

Old Medicare ideas attract most attention – voucher system, later eligibility, and higher cost for middle class

April 2, 2014 – Virtually all organizations that advocate for senior citizens, Medicare or Social Security that issued statements on the Republican FY2015 House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s were critical of the provisions impacting seniors. Most news reports acknowledge his ideas were about the same as in his last budget push, including a voucher system for Medicare, high age for joining Medicare, higher cost for middle class seniors in Medicare.

The budget proposal by Rep. Ryan, a possible Republican contender for the White House in 2016, would repeal the health law – Obamacare - but maintain its savings and taxes. Beginning with those who turn 65 in 2024, it would offer seniors a fixed amount to purchase a private plan or traditional fee for service Medicare.

The budget released today by Congressman Ryan repeats on an old and tired theme - ending the Medicare program as we know it. The Ryan budget would replace Medicare’s guaranteed health benefits with a voucher (or premium support) that seniors and people with disabilities would use to purchase health coverage through private health care plans, according to a statement by Joe Baker, President of the Medicare Rights Center, issued yesterday.

AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond said, “Chairman Ryan’s proposed budget fails to address the high costs of health care and instead shifts costs onto seniors and future retirees. Repealing the benefits of the Affordable Care Act ignores the progress we’ve made to improve access to health care and protect against discrimination based on age, gender or medical history. Removing the Medicare guarantee of affordable health coverage for older Americans by implementing a premium support system and asking seniors and future retirees to pay more is not the right direction.”


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Look at last year's proposal by Rep. Ryan

Budget Conference an Excellent Opportunity to Examine Rep. Ryan’s ‘Entitlement’ Proposals

Editor’s Note: Another gigantic battle seems eminent as Republicans are expected to continue their efforts to cut the entitlement programs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. This is a look at the strategy of Paul Ryan, GOP House Budget Chairman; 10th Anniversary for Center for American Progress - see video

By Scott Lilly, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress

Oct. 24, 2013

Forget Talk About Cutting Social Security, New Campaign Wants Benefits Increased

National Committee wants to end Congressional efforts to reduce the program and put spot light on making it better

Feb. 10, 2014

Social Security, Medicare Drop in Public Interest for State of the Union but Top Issues for Actuaries

American Academy of Actuaries offer their help in strengthening lifetime income solutions

Jan. 28, 2014

Read more on Politics for Senior Citizens


A leading advocate for seniors in Medicare and Social Security, Max Richtman, President of the National Committee for Social Security and Medicare, said, “The GOP/Ryan budget is nothing short of an all-out declaration of war against millions of American families still struggling in our recovering economy.  This is a budget that doubles-down on an ideological quest to turn Medicare into “coupon care”, making it harder for seniors to choose their own doctors and ultimately killing traditional Medicare.

“If the GOP/Ryan budget becomes law, seniors will immediately lose billions in prescription drug savings, free wellness visits and preventative services provided in the ACA, and the Part D donut hole returns. This budget also slashes the nation’s anti-poverty programs, including Medicaid, targeting them with more cuts and block granting.”

Richtman added, “…we predict the GOP will have no better luck selling their flawed and misguided approach this year than they did during previous failed attempts.”

Baker of the Medicare Rights Center said, “Congress must reject this plan and instead look to responsible options, like obtaining lower prices for pharmaceutical drugs and advancing the delivery system reforms made possible by health care reform, to secure Medicare’s future for years to come. In many ways, the Medicare program is stronger than ever. Adoption of the Ryan budget would only serve to dismantle that success.”

AARP’s LeaMond also offered some other ideas, “Now is the time for Congress to identify sensible changes across the healthcare system that reduce costs, including, improving care coordination between health providers, lowering drug prices and speeding up access to generic drugs, reducing unnecessary testing and services, and cracking down on fraud, waste and inefficiencies in the health system. Congress must also look at payment incentives based on quality care and improving patient outcomes rather than just the number of services performed.”

Newspaper editorials

Newspaper editorials were pretty much as expected – the most conservative ones finding something good to say ad the more progress ones being adamantly in opposition.

The Wall Street Journal: The Ryan Priorities
Paul Ryan laid out his House budget outline on Tuesday, which is already more than Senate Democrats plan to do this year. Passing a budget is a core part of governing, and it's also an obligation under the 1974 Budget Act, but Democrats plan to cruise through the general election on December's budget deal and not let the voters in on their future plans for taxes and spending (4/1).

The New York Times: Mr. Ryan’s Faith-Based Budget
Medicare would become a voucher program by 2024 for those now 55 and younger, allowing them to choose between a fixed payment for private insurance and the traditional plan. The problem with this idea, revived from past Ryan budgets, is that traditional Medicare wouldn't stay unchanged for long because it will attract the sickest patients and become so expensive that most people would be driven to the private plan. The spending cuts in that plan would quickly make it inadequate. Mr. Ryan would make exactly the same $700 billion in cuts to Medicare that Republicans have ridiculed Democrats for making to pay for health care reform. But, of course, he would repeal the health law and has no particular concern about the 13 million people who would no longer be covered under the law's Medicaid expansion (4/1). 


Some of this information is reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives and sign up for email delivery. © Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.


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