America's seniors would have a choice between traditional Medicare and Medicare-approved private plans under a new, bipartisan proposal introduced by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) (PDF).
Wyden-Ryan plan offers choice on Medicare
Any senior at or above the age of 55 today would not see changes in the Medicare program, according to the Wyden-Ryan plan. Beginning in 2022, seniors would have the option of participating either in traditional Medicare or in a private plan. "This marketplace will supplant Medicare Advantage," according to the proposal.
Low-income seniors who qualify for Medicaid would continue to have Medicaid pay for their out-of-pocket expenses, while other low-income seniors who do not qualify for Medicaid would receive fully funded savings accounts to help pay for an increased out-of-pocket costs. And, if the initiatives in this proposal do not curb Medicare's rising costs, there will be a cap on cost growth of 1% over gross domestic product, plus inflation, starting in 2023.
Meanwhile, all health plans that would participate in the Medicare exchange would be required to offer benefits that are at least the actuarial equivalent of those provided by traditional Medicare. Also under the plan, any small business with up to 100 workers would be able to offer its employees a “free choice” option so they could use what their employer contributes to their health coverage to purchase their own insurance.
“Guaranteeing a future for traditional Medicare is a big challenge and it is our hope that outlining areas where Democrats and Republicans can reach agreement will help Congress rise to that challenge,” Wyden said in a statement.
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