Press Release             

Contact: Mitchell Clark
Senior Communications Associate

March 12, 2013  

Statement by Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker on Representative Paul Ryan’s House Budget Proposal

New York, NY—The budget released today by Representative Ryan repeats on an old theme—forcing people with Medicare to pay more for less health security. The Ryan budget would end Medicare as we know it, replacing guaranteed health benefits with a voucher (or premium support) that seniors and people with disabilities would use to purchase health coverage.

The Ryan budget falls short as a credible plan to preserve and strengthen Medicare. Most important, this privatization scheme fails to account for the financial realities facing older adults and people with disabilities. There is no guarantee that the Ryan voucher would keep pace with health care inflation, meaning that people with Medicare would pay more.

Yet, most older adults and people with disabilities cannot afford added health care costs. Half of all people with Medicare—almost 25 million Americans—live on annual incomes of $22,000 or less. Already, people with Medicare spend a significant amount on health care. The average Medicare household spends 15 percent of their total income on health care expenses; three times that of non-Medicare households.

Further, the competitive market envisioned by the Ryan plan would slowly grind away traditional Medicare. Although the Ryan budget maintains traditional Medicare as a coverage option, experts predict that younger, healthier retirees will be drawn to private plans, leaving older, sicker people in traditional Medicare. Providing coverage for this vulnerable population will make traditional Medicare more expensive and less able to compete.

Yet again, the Ryan plan falls short on the facts. Medicare continuously does a better job of controlling health care costs than private health plans. Medicare spending is expected to grow at rates of 3.9 percent per person per year over the next ten years compared to 5.0 percent for private health insurance. Dismantling the Medicare program’s ability to control costs is not a solution to sustain its guaranteed health benefits.

The Ryan budget deals a financial blow to people with Medicare and their families. Congress must reject this plan and instead look to credible options, like obtaining lower prices for pharmaceutical drugs and advancing the delivery system reforms made possible by health care reform, to secure Medicare’s future for years to come. 

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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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