Thursday, April 7, 2011

House Republicans release proposed reforms to Medicare & Medicaid

April 7, 2011

After months of rumors and speculations, House Republicans unveiled their budget proposal this week, which cuts federal spending by $6.2 trillion over the next 10 years, rewrites the tax code and overhauls major entitlement programs - Medicare and Medicaid.

The plan is led by the chair of the House Budget Committee, Representative Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin. His proposal makes sweeping changes to Medicare and Medicaid:

“People who retire after 2021 would no longer have access to Medicare, the government-run fee-for-service health-insurance program. Instead, Medicare for them would be converted into a "premium support" system, meaning beneficiaries would choose from an array of private insurance plans, with government helping pay the premium. People 55 and older would not be affected.

“Medicaid would be converted into a block grant for the states. The GOP budget estimates it would save $771 billion on Medicaid over the next 10 years.”[1]

However, as The New York Times points out, the proposal requires subsequent legislation to meet the spending targets put forth by the GOP:

“The budget resolution is not a binding law even if approved by Congress; if adopted, it would direct the relevant Congressional committees to draft spending legislation putting in place its dictates.”

Following the announcement by the House Republicans, AHCA/NCAL President & CEO Governor Mark Parkinson issued the following statement:

“AHCA/NCAL understands the importance of addressing our nation’s growing debt and deficit and appreciates the challenges lawmakers face in reducing both. Still, our first responsibility is to ensure that America’s seniors who rely on Medicaid can continue to receive the long term care they need. 

“A healthy economy means a healthy Medicaid program. Further, we must ensure that the 3.1 million Americans working in long term care facilities today can continue providing for the medically frail elderly and individuals with disabilities. 

“We look forward to working with Chairman Ryan, the committees of jurisdiction and other Congressional leaders in the coming weeks to protect our commitment to the Greatest Generation today, and for generations to come.”

AHCA/NCAL is keeping apprised of the budget process and will continue to keep members in the loop as events unfold.

For excerpts from the GOP FY 2012 budget proposal regarding Medicaid and Medicare, Kaiser Health News has compiled the sections. Or read a summary of the budget plan or the entire proposal (pdf).

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