The nation’s budget – and its effect on health care – has been a topic of major contention. Whether it’s Republicans or Democrats in the House unable to come to a compromise or whether it’s the general public, frustrated with the stalemate, the situation has been on the forefront of many minds. But, it finally seems to be coming to a head. Much of that is due to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s recent budget recommendation.
In an article published by the Washington Post and written by Margot Sanger-Katz, Ryan’s proposal and its effects on U.S. health care can be broken into four areas.
1. No Medicare savings for 10 years
Sanger-Katz explains that although Ryan has spoken about the need for entitlement savings, his proposal won’t result in any savings for quite some time. “Last week, there was speculation about the possibility that the House budget would start tinkering with the structure of Medicare for people 55 and older,” she writes. “That possible change was apparently scrapped after a revolt by moderate House Republicans. That means that although Ryan’s Medicare plan will receive most of the political heat in the coming weeks—and probably the next campaign season—it actually won’t save the federal government any money immediately.”
2. Traditional Medicare will not be eliminated
Although the structure would be different, Medicare would still be in place. The voucher plan would give a fixed amount of money, allowing seniors to buy traditional Medicare coverage or a private plan of their choosing. According to Sanger-Katz, “it would convert the program from a single-payer monolith into a marketplace of competing plans.” The caveat is that traditional Medicare would have to compete with the private plans, potentially causing Medicare to be too expensive for seniors who choose it.
3. Medicaid could take a hit
Currently, Medicaid is funded in accordance with the amount of medical bills that are submitted. Under the Ryan budget, Medicaid would be come a block grant. Sanger-Katz explains that states would “get a lump sum for their programs, no matter how many people joined their programs, how sick they got, or how much medical prices go up in a given year.” Payments could grow over time according to the overall population growth, and some estimates say it could be lower than what the states currently receive.
4. Obamacare would be repealed/overhauled
“As he has in his past two budgets, Ryan’s budget assumes that Congress would eliminate all the parts of the president’s health reform law that subsidize insurance coverage for the uninsured,” says Sanger-Katz. “But though he says he would repeal all of Obamacare, his budgets suggest he would not eliminate the entire law. The budget is built on the assumption that new tax revenue and major cuts to the current Medicare program will stay on the books.”