Press Release             

Contact: Akiko Takano
Deputy Director of Communications

November 23, 2010

Statement by Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker on the Rivlin-Ryan Proposal

New York, NY—When it comes to Medicare, the Rivlin-Ryan plan has a very simple solution—make people with Medicare pay more for less coverage. In short, the proposal is an attempt to appear fiscally responsible at the expense of Medicare consumers.

The proposed long-term changes to Medicare would result in higher costs for Medicare consumers and less coverage. The proposal requires new Medicare enrollees to purchase private insurance with vouchers beginning in 2021. According to the CBO analysis, under the Rivlin-Ryan proposal, Medicare consumers will probably see a reduction in benefits or pay higher premiums for the same coverage they now receive under current law.

That is a particularly bad deal for people with Medicare, as the current Medicare benefit package is considerably less generous than that provided to most workers and their families and will likely be less generous than most of the coverage slated for arrival in 2014 under health care reform. The Rivlin-Ryan proposal will only widen a gap in coverage over time for a group of the population that has greater needs and fewer resources to meet them.

In the more immediate term, the proposal will increase out-of-pocket costs for people with Medicare, and create financial burdens on current Medicare consumers, approximately half of whom live at or below 200 percent of the poverty level. In repealing the CLASS Act, a law that promotes more affordable access to long-term care services, the proposal irresponsibly ignores the growing long-term care crisis in the United States. This action puts the major financial burden for long-term care squarely back on the shoulders of middle-class Americans who have incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid coverage but cannot afford increasingly expensive long-term care.

The proposal seems to exist in a Washington, DC vacuum—ignoring both the needs of people with Medicare who are trying to make ends meet within their own budgets, as well as the provisions of the recently enacted Affordable Care Act that save billions in Medicare outlays to help the federal budget. Rather than the nuanced approach of the Affordable Care Act, which phases in savings over time and supports patient-centered reforms that aim to increase quality and efficiency, this proposal will fundamentally change the nature and purpose of the Medicare program for the worse.

To read the Congressional Budget Office’s preliminary analysis of the Rivlin-Ryan proposal, go to


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Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives.


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