GOP’s 2012 Budget Plan Seeks To Block Reform, Adjust Health Programs
On Tuesday, Republicans released their fiscal year 2012 federal budget proposal, which would make $6 trillion in federal spending cuts over the next decade, attempt to repeal and defund the federal health reform law and overhaul Medicare and Medicaid, Reuters/Orlando Sentinel reports.
House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) presented the plan, which would provide Medicare beneficiaries with lump-sum vouchers to buy private insurance and would turn Medicaid into a block grant system (Sullivan, Reuters/Orlando Sentinel, 4/5).
The Medicaid overhaul would provide states with fixed annual block grants of $11,000 per beneficiary to use as they choose. Republicans' 2012 budget plan estimates that if theÂ federal health reform lawÂ is repealed, savings from the block grant plan could be significant (California Healthline, 4/4).
The plan likely will go through markup on Wednesday and receive a vote one week later. The House is expected to pass the proposal and send it to the Senate (Sherman/Cohen, Politico, 4/4).
According to The Hill, Democrats will offer their own 2012 budget plan to counter the GOP proposal. However, a House Budget Committee aide said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), senior Democrat on the budget committee, will not finalize the plan until next week (Lillis, The Hill, 4/4).
Ryan Opinion Piece
In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal promoting the GOP plan, Ryan writes, "No one person or party is responsible for the looming [budget] crisis" in the U.S., but "[s]ince President Obama took office, our problems have gotten worse."
He continues, "Government health and retirement programs are growing at unsustainable rates," adding, "The new health care law is a fiscal train wreck." According to Ryan, "The president's recent budget proposal would accelerate America's descent into a debt crisis." However, he writes that "our budget, which we call The Path to Prosperity, is very different."
He writes that turning Medicaid into a block grant system gives beneficiaries "access to better care." He adds that the voucher system would "sav[e] Medicare" (Ryan, Wall Street Journal, 4/5).
Responses to GOP Proposal
Democrats and liberal advocacy groups on Monday publicly opposed the Medicare and Medicaid overhaul proposals, the Washington Post reports.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Democrats believe the programs should be preserved and augmented to run more efficiently. Meanwhile, 16 Democratic governors on Monday sent a letter to House and Senate leaders opposing the Medicaid changes. They said the GOP plan would "significantly shift costs and risks to states," which "would severely undercut our ability to provide health care to our residents and adequately pay providers" (Rucker/Fahrenthold, Washington Post, 4/4).
However, the plan also received public support. James Capretta, fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, said the plan makes the right changes to Medicare. Capretta noted that the program needs to switch from its current fee-for-service structure, which typically rewards lower quality care that costs more (DoBias, National Journal, 4/4).
Experts Concerned That Proposal Could Jeopardize Children's Coverage
Experts are raising concerns about the effect of the Medicaid overhaul proposal on children recently enrolled in Medicaid and the supplemental Children's Health Insurance Program, National Journal reports.
Recently, more children have begun getting insurance through the programs, but cuts proposed by GOP could hinder that progress, according to the experts. CNN quoted sources stating that the proposed changes would eliminate up to $1 trillion from Medicaid.
Vikki Wachino, director of children's health programs at CMS, said making the cuts could prompt people to drop out of Medicaid coverage and return only when they are ill. Wachino said that one in four U.S. children get insurance through Medicaid and that the GOP plan would "affect the most vulnerable children in America" (McCarthy, National Journal, 4/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.