GOP Budget Proposals Would Gut Medicare

When Republicans took control of the House of Representatives in 2010, they gave Paul Ryan, the new Chairman of the House Budget Committee, extraordinary powers to shape federal spending. Ryan is now proposing to use the deficit as an excuse to transform Medicare in radical ways.

Under Ryan’s budget blueprint, the current universal coverage Medicare system will be replaced by a voucher system in 2021. Vouchers will provide a fixed payment and force seniors to purchase private insurance. Increases in the voucher payments will be based on the general rate of inflation plus one percent, which is much lower than the medical inflation rate.

The change will force seniors to spend increasing amounts of their Social Security income to pay for the coverage they get now under the government-run, not-for-profit, Medicare system at a much lower cost. In the first year alone, the R.J. Eskow of Center for America’s Future estimates the gap between what the voucher will provide and what coverage will cost could range between $2,500 and $6,000 per year. And because the Medicare voucher payment goes up less than the increases in medical costs, the gap will widen every year.

The conservative press is claiming that these restructurings are necessary to control spending, but Eskow notes that “The top 25 hedge fund managers made a collective $22 billion last year. If they had been taxed under the same rules as cops, firefighters, nurses, and teachers, and if the President’s proposed tax changes for the wealthiest earners had passed, these 25 people alone might reduce the Federal deficit by more than five billion dollars in a single year! But Rep. Ryan and his party prevented that from happening.

‘Party of deficit reduction’? Gosh, I don’t think so.”

Click here for Eskow’s full analysis.