Statement by Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker on Representative Paul Ryan’s House Budget Proposal
New York, NY—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.
The Ryan budget’s privatization scheme would grind away at traditional Medicare, funneling younger and healthier retirees into private health plans and leaving older, sick beneficiaries in the traditional Medicare program. Providing coverage for this vulnerable population will make traditional Medicare more expensive and less able to compete. In short, the Ryan budget preserves Medicare as we know it, only to allow it to wither on the vine.
At the same time, the Ryan plan forces seniors and people with disabilities to pay more for less. The Ryan budget would raise the Medicare age of eligibility and force middle class beneficiaries to pay higher premiums. The Ryan budget would repeal key advancements made by the Affordable Care Act to strengthen Medicare benefits, including more affordable prescription medicines and access to low cost preventive health care benefits.
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.