House Republicans are proposing major changes to the nation's entitlement programs while they seek to cut more than $730 billion from Medicaid and nearly $390 billion from Medicare compared with the president's budget over the next 10 years.
On Tuesday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) released his panel's fiscal 2012 budget, which aims to cut $6.2 trillion in government spending over the next decade compared with President Barack Obama's budget for next year; bring nonsecurity discretionary spending to below 2008 levels; and reduce deficits by $4.4 trillion over 10 years. As Ryan announced earlier, the plan would convert Medicaid funding to block grants for states and change Medicare to a so-called premium support model that allows beneficiaries to choose from a list of plans.
“Medicare would then provide a payment to subsidize the cost of the plan,” according to the budget resolution, which Republicans have titled, “The Path to Prosperity.” “In addition, Medicare will provide increased assistance for lower-income beneficiaries and those with greater health risks,” according to the plan.
In a news release, Reps. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) and Pete Stark (D-Calif.) said the model is similar to a voucher plan that Ryan had proposed earlier.
“If it looks like a voucher plan and acts like a voucher plan, it is a voucher plan,” the statement said. “But don't tell that to Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, who like former Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas before him, is trying to rebrand a bad idea that will turn Medicare into a voucher program. This time he's reverting to the voucher plan's original name, ‘premium support.'”
Meanwhile, the budget maintains the GOP promise to defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as it would cut $1.4 trillion in funding for the law, also over the next 10 years.
Consumer group Families USA has planned a news conference for Tuesday afternoon to discuss the budget, which the group said in a news release “would slash funding for critical healthcare for seniors, especially those needing nursing and other long-term care.”