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Life Health > Long-Term Care Planning

GOP budget would restructure Medicare

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The latest budget to emerge from the Republican-led House includes a staggering $6.2 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade, and if Republicans had their way, Medicare and Medicaid, along with other entitlement programs, would be completely overhauled.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin told “Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace” that the budget would be unveiled in the coming week. Ryan’s long-term plan to combat the budget deficit is already drawing the ire of Democrats, who have criticized the impact such cuts will have on seniors and children.

Last year’s proposal by Ryan, called the “roadmap for reform,” may indicate the broader strokes of the House budget plan. The roadmap called for capping federal taxes at 19 percent of GDP product and allowing seniors the option of putting Social Security savings into private retirement accounts.

But a centerpiece of the proposal is a dramatic restructuring of Medicare and Medicaid. This would involve converting the current system, in which the government makes payments to health care providers on behalf of beneficiaries, to one in which beneficiaries receive vouchers to help pay for care or, as Ryan prefers to call it, “premium support.”

With this new system, seniors would choose from a number of privately run plans in a “Medicare exchange” as opposed to enrolling en masse in Medicare. His proposal is aimed at those turning 65 in 2022; current beneficiaries would not be affected. Between this change and an overhaul of Medicaid, which he would have transferred back to state control, Ryan hopes to save more than $1 trillion.

Said Ryan, “Yes, we are giving (Democrats) a political weapon to go against us (in the next election). “But they will have to lie and demagogue to make it a weapon,” he said. “Shame on them. We can’t keep kicking the can down the road.”

Democrats, for their part, complain that the budget protects tax breaks for corporations and the rich while slashing education and denying health care coverage for millions of Americans.


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