The Republican Fiscal Year 2013 federal budget introduced by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan would dismantle Medicare and its guarantee of health insurance coverage and a wide range of benefits — and replace it with increasingly inadequate payments to either a government plan called Medicare or a private insurance company for Americans who are currently 55 or younger.
The result would inevitably be that seniors would be forced to buy less comprehensive coverage or pay higher premiums and copayments as the years went by. Those seniors would pay more for their health care, and very soon they’d end up paying most of their health care costs themselves, taking us back to the bad old days before the creation of Medicare when many seniors couldn’t afford all of the health care services they needed.
That doesn’t sound like “reform” to me; it sounds more like health care rationing, with only the wealthy being able to afford the level of health care that all Medicare beneficiaries enjoy today.
But the House-passed budget doesn’t just end Medicare as we know it for future seniors. It also calls for repealing the 2011 health care reform law, which among many other things, strengthened Medicare, phased out the Medicare prescription drug benefit donut hole, and eliminated co-payments for annual check-ups and preventive screenings like mammograms.
Repeal of health care reform would hit today’s seniors’ in their pocketbooks almost immediately. Eliminating the phase-out of the donut hole alone would affect more than 250,000 Pennsylvanians and cost them $150 million next year and $3 billion over the next ten years. That’s quite a change for most seniors living on fixed incomes. Click here for information on how health care reform (the Affordable Care Act) benefits seniors in Pittsburgh.
On top of that, the budget passed by House Republicans would convert Medicaid into a block grant and cut it by nearly a trillion dollars over the next 10 years. That fundamental change would eliminate the last guarantee that low-income seniors, the disabled, and the poor could get the health care they need at a price they could afford – and which pays for two-thirds of all nursing home residents in the country.
I voted against the Ryan budget and its draconian changes to the Medicare and Medicaid programs. I will continue to strongly oppose efforts to end the Medicare and Medicaid programs as we know them. I will continue to work to ensure that Medicare and Medicaid continue to provide a guarantee of affordable, high-quality health care for seniors, the poor, and the disabled.