December 01, 2016
Medicare at Risk in 2017
On January 3, 2017, Senator Mike Enzi, chair of the Senate Budget Committee, filed legislation to begin to dismantle our health care system. This is the first part of the Republican plan to radically alter our health care programs, including Medicare and Medicaid.
In November, 2016,House Speaker Paul Ryan told Fox News that he would push legislation in early 2017 that would in effect end Medicare’s guaranteed health care benefits. For years Ryan has worked to replace Medicare with a voucher or coupon for seniors to use to purchase their health insurance. This threat to our earned health care benefits became even more serious when President-elect Donald Trump nominated Rep. Tom Price to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Like Ryan, Price has vowed to privatize, cut and change Medicare to a voucher program.
Speaker Ryan said he would bury the Medicare changes in the legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. This strategy is an effort to confuse and distract Americans who overwhelmingly support and depend on Medicare and wish to see it strengthened, not destroyed. This is not the first time Speaker Ryan has tried to dismantle Medicare and his plans are available on his website. They include:
End Medicare’s Guaranteed Benefits
- Raise the Medicare Eligibility Age from 65 to 67.
This would deny nearly 5 million seniors insurance starting in 2020. By 67, most Americans have at least one chronic medical condition that would make the purchase of private insurance prohibitively expensive and difficult to obtain.
- Vouchers or Coupon-care: Instead of a Medicare card which provides access to health care, seniors would receive a limited voucher or coupon. These coupons would contribute toward the purchasing of a traditional Medicare plan or a private insurance policy and would require beneficiaries to pay significantly more out-of-pocket.
- Medigap Plans Will Cover Less: Today Medigap insurance plans are allowed to cover most of a beneficiary’s co-payments. The Ryan Coupon-Care Voucher Plan would change the rules and Medigap policies would no longer be able to cover deductibles. Medigap plans would also be limited in how much of the difference between the deductible and the out of pocket cap could be covered.
- Costs Shifted to Seniors: Speaker Ryan’s Coupon-Care Voucher Plan would double hospital stay copayments and would substantially increase all deductibles.
Medicaid pays the long-term care costs for millions of seniors and provides health care services to people with disabilities and low-income Americans.
Ryan and Price’s vision includes drastic changes to states’ Medicaid programs as well as 25% cuts in funding. States would be forced to cut benefits to their most vulnerable people or increase state taxes to make up the difference.