Analysts at the indispensable Center on Budget Policy and Priorities (CBPP) are focusing a spotlight on the negative impact that Congressman Paul Ryan’s (R. WI) recent 10-year budget proposal would have on students, seniors, and lower- and middle-income families.
Ryan’s plan would raise the eligibility age for Medicare — which provides health insurance to older Americans who are not covered by an employer health insurance plan — from 65 to 67. As the CBPP points outs:
This change … would put many more 65- and 66-year-olds who don’t have employer coverage and can’t afford insurance into the individual insurance market — where the premiums charged to people in this age group tend to be very high — leaving them uninsured.
The Ryan plan would also implement block grants that would substantially weaken the Medicaid insurance program that provides health care to low-income families, including 28 million children.
According to the CBPP, the “[Congressional Budget Office] (CBO) finds that federal funding for Medicaid would fall 35 percent by 2022 — and 49 percent by 2030 — below the levels the federal government now is projected to provide for the program.” These funding shortfalls would force states to either find funding to cover the gaps or make:
cuts in eligibility (leading to more uninsured low-income people), cuts in covered services (leading to more underinsured low-income people), and/or cuts in already-low payment rates to health care providers (causing doctors hospitals, and nursing homes to withdraw from Medicaid and thereby reduce beneficiaries’ access to care).
Beyond cutting funding for these vital health care programs, the Ryan plan would seek to cut funding for Pell grants and other programs to support college education opportunities for lower-income students while granting more tax cuts for the rich.
The safety-net shredding proposals in Ryan’s plan are being driven by an anti-government ideology, one in which tax cuts are given to the wealthy while military spending is considered untouchable.
Ryan’s blueprint for dismantling the nation’s safety net however will not go unchallenged. A new coalition, Strengthening America’s Values and Economy for All, is organizing for policies that will protect the interests of low and moderate-income Americans in the fight over the budget and deficit reduction. In its “Statement of Principles,” the group aims to ensure that the public sees the positive role of government and hears about alternatives to slash and cut proposals that fail to consider the “revenue” side of the debate:
Throughout our history, the federal government has played an essential role in spurring economic growth and increasing opportunity for its people. Federal support made the railroads, interstate highways, and land grant colleges possible. The G.I. Bill opened up education and improved living standards for millions of veterans and their families. Unemployment Insurance, Social Security, and Medicare have made Americans more secure, saving us from deep poverty from economic downturns, old age, or illness.