After his last attempt at a budget went down in flames last year, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled the House GOP’s new budget this morning, painting it as a sensible plan to reform the nation’s tax code and reduce the debt while maintaining entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Yet again, however, Ryan and the GOP have the social safety net and Medicare in their sights, and yet again, they’re attempting to pass the cost of massive tax breaks for corporations and the rich off to middle and lower-income Americans.
Here are the five worst things about Ryan’s budget:
1. SENIORS WOULD PAY MORE FOR HEALTH CARE: Beginning 2023, the guaranteed Medicare benefit would be transformed into a government-financed “premium support” system. Seniors currently under the age of 55 could use their government contribution to purchase insurance from an exchange of private plans or traditional fee-for-service Medicare. But the budget does not take sufficient precautions to prevent insurers from cherry-picking the the healthiest beneficiaries from traditional Medicare and leaving sicker applicants to the government. As a result, traditional Medicare costs could skyrocket, forcing even more seniors out of the government program. The budget also adopts a per capita cost cap of GDP growth plus 0.5 percent, without specifying how it would enforce it. This makes it likely that the cap would limit the government contribution provided to beneficiaries and since the proposed growth rate is much slower than the projected growth in health care costs, CBO estimates that new beneficiaries could pay up to $1,200 more by 2030 and more than $5,900 more by 2050. Finally, the budget would also raise Medicare’s age of eligibility to 67. Some seniors who would no longer be eligible for Medicare would pick up employer coverage—but they would pay more in premiums and cost sharing. And since the budget would scale back or eliminate other coverage options, hundreds of thousands of seniors would become uninsured.