Romney-Ryan Plan Increases Medicare Costs Now and in the Future
According to a new report by the Center for American Progress (CAP) Action Fund, the Romney-Ryan budget proposal, released by vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and endorsed by presidential candidate Mitt Romney, increases Medicare premiums and drug costs for current seniors, and increases Medicare costs during retirement for those who qualify for Medicare after 2022. Specifically, the plan converts the traditional Medicare program into a voucher system, repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and turns Medicaid into a block grant. Together, these proposed changes would significantly increase health care costs for both current and future Medicare beneficiaries.
Using data from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the CAP Action Fund estimated that the Romney-Ryan plan would increase Medicare premiums and drug costs for current beneficiaries by $11,000 by repealing the ACA and its cost-saving provisions, such as the closing of the prescription drug coverage gap and free preventive benefits. Current Medicare beneficiaries would also face high long-term and skilled nursing care costs as the Romney-Ryan plan cuts Medicaid, which pays a substantial share of long-term care costs for Medicare beneficiaries.
Younger people would fare far worse under the Romney-Ryan plan. According to the report, Medicare costs would increase by almost $60,000 for people who turn 65 in 2023. The Romney-Ryan plan turns Medicare into a voucher program with a voucher amount of $7,500 in 2023. Each year the voucher would grow at a rate of 0.5 percent over the rate of growth of gross domestic product (GDP). However, because health care costs will increase at a much faster rate than the voucher, seniors will be forced to spend more of their own money on health insurance premiums. People who qualify for Medicare in 2030 will see an increase of almost $125,000 in Medicare costs during their retirement. By 2050, seniors who are newly eligible for Medicare will pay over $300,000 more.
Unfortunately, the Romney-Ryan plan does little to address the real problem: rising costs in the health care sector overall. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has demonstrated that the government can achieve savings without shifting costs to people with Medicare: the law bolsters Medicare’s finances by eight years, while also investing in new benefits. Unlike the ACA, the Romney-Ryan plan cuts Medicare by billions of dollars and does not make any new investments in the program. In fact, it re-opens the coverage gap for future Medicare beneficiaries and increases costs for current and future beneficiaries.
Read the full report, "Increased Costs During Retirement Under the Romney-Ryan Medicare Plan."
See CAP Action Funds infographic, "How much more will the Romney-Ryan Medicare plan cost you?"
Kaiser Poll Reveals Voters Concerned About High Health Costs, Medicare
The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) recently released its August Health Tracking Poll, which asked Americans to address the extent to which various health policy issues might impact their votes in upcoming elections. According to the KFF poll, the top two health issues for Democrat, Republican and Independent voters are the cost of health care and coverage, and Medicare.
The KFF poll finds that Republican voters view the cost of health care and coverage as the top health care issue to impact their votes this fall. For Democrats, the top issue was Medicare, but Medicare also resonated with Republicans: 61 percent of those polled said that Medicare would be an important factor influencing their vote. Unlike Democrats and Independents, less than half of Republicans polled said that Medicaid would be an important factor in their electoral choice.
According to an earlier poll conducted by KFF and the Washington Post, both Democrats and Republicans are opposed to cutting Medicare benefits. In fact, 69 percent of Republican voters and 85 percent of Democrats polled said they do not support reducing Medicare benefits, even in light of deficit reduction. Additionally, the Washington Post/KFF poll found that both Democrat and Republican voters support preserving Medicare as a program with guaranteed benefits, rather than converting the program into a premium support model, as proposed by vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. Under Ryan’s proposal, the government would provide seniors with a voucher to purchase their insurance on the private market. However, the amount of the voucher would likely not keep pace with rising health care costs over time, thus forcing Medicare beneficiaries to pay more and more out of their own pockets.
As the Republican National Convention draws to a close and Democrats prepare for their own convention in September, it is important to note that Americans are concerned about the high costs of the health care system and changes to Medicare that would increase out-of-pocket health care expenses for older adults and people with disabilities. Half of these Medicare beneficiaries live on annual incomes of $22,000 or less, already spend 15 percent of their incomes on health costs, and cannot afford to bear a greater financial burden for less health security.
Read a full analysis of the KFF August Health Tracking Poll.
Medicare covers blood tests to screen for diabetes if you are at-risk for diabetes or have pre-diabetes. Medicare also covers services and supplies to help treat the disease. You are eligible for one Medicare-covered diabetes screening every 12 months if you meet certain conditions, including having hypertension, having a prior blood test showing low glucose tolerance, or are obese.
Medicare will pay for 100% of its approved amount for the diabetes screening; if you are enrolled in Original Medicare, you will not be responsible for a copayment or deductible if you see doctors who take assignment. Health care providers who take assignment accept the Medicare-approved amount as payment in full. If you are in a Medicare private health plan, also known as a Medicare Advantage plan, you will not have any cost-sharing fees (coinsurances, copays or deductibles) for the test, as long as you see in-network providers. Call your plan to find out what other rules apply.
Medicare also covers certain diabetic supplies, including glucose monitors and control solutions, lancets and test strips. If you use an insulin pump, the insulin and the pump may be covered as durable medical equipment under Medicare Part B. If you inject your insulin with a syringe, Medicare Part D covers the cost of the insulin and the supplies needed to inject the insulin.
Original Medicare will pay 80 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for all covered diabetes supplies after you have met your annual Part B deductible. If you are in a Medicare Advantage plan, you should call your plan to find out what rules and costs apply. In most states, Medicare will only cover your mail-order diabetic supplies if you get them from a contract supplier.
Learn more about Medicare coverage of diabetes screenings and related services at www.medicareinteractive.org, or call our helpline at 800-333-4114.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced that, to date, 5.4 million people with Medicare have saved $4.1 billion dollars on prescription drugs thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA enacted several enhancements to Medicare, most notably closing the Part D prescription drug coverage gap, or doughnut hole, for beneficiaries. Older adults in the doughnut hole have saved an average of $768 each since the law passed.
In addition to making drugs more affordable, the ACA offers free preventive care benefits for Medicare beneficiaries. The ACA also strengthened Medicare’s finances by reducing fraud, waste and abuse by insurers and health care providers. The legislation’s largest cost savings comes from reducing overpayments to Medicare private health plans, also known as Medicare Advantage plans. Together, ACA reforms to Medicare save the program over $700 billion—without cutting benefits for older adults and people with disabilities
Read CMS’ press release.