House Republicans Propose Steep Cuts to Essential Health Care Programs

Casey SchwarzMedicare Watch2 Comments

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The budget proposal approved this week by the U.S. House of Representatives Budget Committee is predicted to balance the federal budget in nine years, largely through across-the-board reductions in spending. One exception to these cuts is an increase of $90 billion dollars in defense spending.

The proposed changes to the health care system are profound–repealing the Affordable Care Act, block-granting the Medicaid program, and partially privatizing the Medicare program through premium support. Under premium support proposals, the federal government would give Medicare beneficiaries a subsidy to purchase private health insurance.

Critics of premium support caution that privatizing Medicare would significantly increase costs for beneficiaries and  weaken the Medicare program. The subsidy made available to people with Medicare purchase insurance  may not keep up with the cost of coverage.

The viability of traditional Medicare  may also be at stake as younger, healthier people would be more likely to opt for private health plans, leaving older, sicker beneficiaries in traditional Medicare. Higher health costs among the remaining population could lead to unaffordable premium hikes.

In addition to privatizing Medicare the budget would also consolidate Medicare Parts A and B and leave in place the sequester cuts instituted in 2011, which reduced payments to Medicare providers.

Learn more about the plan on the House Budget website.

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