Press Release             

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ilene Stein
Federal Policy Director
212-204-6287

April 15, 2011

Statement of Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker on
Passage of House Budget

New York, NY − The FY 2012 budget passed by the House today ends Medicare as we know it, replacing Medicare’s guaranteed benefits to each Medicare consumer with a voucher, or capped amount of “premium support”, to purchase insurance from a private company. This voucher scheme is financially disastrous for people with Medicare, half of whom have annual household incomes below $20,000. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and others anticipate that the voucher would not be enough for consumers to afford a coverage package equivalent to what people with Medicare currently receive. The CBO calculated that the average 65-year-old under the voucher scheme would pay $6,400 to $7,000 more per year than they would for comparable coverage under traditional Medicare.

Further, the House budget drastically cuts the Medicaid program by providing states with capped “block grants” that could result in drastic reductions in payment to Medicaid providers, benefit cuts, and changes in eligibility rules. People with Medicare rely on Medicaid for numerous health and long term care services. For example, Medicaid pays for almost half of all long term care provided in this country, including home and personal care that allows older Americans to remain in their homes as long as possible. 

The House budget also repeals the new Medicare benefits contained in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the closure of the Part D “doughnut hole”, new preventive care services, and delivery system reforms that promise higher quality care at a lower cost.  

Most importantly, the House budget attempts to reduce deficits on the backs of Medicare and Medicaid consumers by increasing their costs without addressing the real problem – rising health care costs throughout the entire health care system. This budget simply shifts costs from the federal government to consumers, particularly to those who have low and moderate incomes, and are the least able to shoulder these extra financial burdens.

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Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives.

 

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