By, Ethan Rome - Executive Director, Health Care for America Now
The Republican budget proposal released by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin would give millionaires and political campaign contributors huge tax breaks while punishing seniors and working families. Ryan's extremist plan would decimate Medicare and Medicaid and terminate the Affordable Care Act, undermining the economic security of America's struggling middle class.
The Republican plan isn't based on the principle of shared sacrifice. There's no fairness. The idea that we solve big problems in this country by working together and sharing the burden can't be found. The super-rich and big corporations aren't asked to pitch in. Instead the Republicans manipulate the tax code so the rich get even richer. This budget blueprint changes the rules and reshapes this country in a breathtakingly dangerous way.
The Republican budget attacks every single one of us. Health care programs that everyone in this country depends on would be eviscerated. We'll all be covered by Medicare. Many of us have friends and relatives who receive Medicaid benefits, including millions in nursing homes. And the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, has already made a huge difference in the lives of millions in its first year - and ultimately will directly touch 200 million of us.
The GOP's budget breaks the fundamental promise of this country: That if you work hard and play by the rules, you can take care of your family and retire with dignity and peace of mind.
How do the Republicans intend to reduce the deficit? They want seniors and hard-working families to pay more for health care and get less coverage.
The Republicans want to:
- End Medicare as we know it: The Republican budget eliminates traditional Medicare. It trades seniors' guaranteed health care benefits for vouchers that go directly to private insurance companies, risking their health and financial security when care is denied or premiums are raised. Under Ryan's plan, the value of the vouchers would rise more slowly than private premiums, forcing seniors to make up the difference and fall farther behind with each passing year. Those who can't afford it will be out of luck. The enrollment age would rise from 65 to 67.
- Give mammoth tax cuts to millionaires and big corporations. At a time when income disparities are as big as ever, the Republicans would widen the gap. This year U.S. corporations have taken the biggest profits in the nation's history and corporate taxes are at the lowest levels in generations (some corporations don't pay taxes at all!). But the Republicans want to cut another $1.5 trillion from the tax obligations of the wealthiest individuals and companies. This is a bonanza for corporate lobbyists and campaign contributors.
- Rip apart America's safety net. The Republicans want to convert Medicaid into state block grants that will shift costs to states, lower payments to hospitals and doctors, cost three million jobs, and impoverish seniors and their families by shifting to them the burden of paying for nursing homes and other essential long-term care services.
- Put insurance companies back in charge of our care. The plan would allow insurance companies to jack up our rates and deny our care whenever they want. The Republicans would do away with cost savings and consumer protections under the Affordable Care Act, like the ban on denying care to people with pre-existing conditions, the big savings on drug costs for seniors and new caps on how much of each premium dollar goes to overhead and profits. Repealing the ACA would keep 32 million uninsured people from gaining quality, affordable health coverage.
- Help Wall Street-run health insurance companies make record-breaking profits and pay their CEOs outrageous sums to deny people the care they paid for and need. The Ryan plan would hand over nearly 65 million seniors to the private health insurance industry. Private insurers selling Medicare Advantage plans already cost 11 percent more than the conventional Medicare program, the nation's most efficient health plan. There's no reason to think they could perform any more efficiently with 100 percent of Medicare beneficiaries.
The Ryan plan is an assault on the middle class that shifts billions of dollars to the big corporations and richest Americans. It robs future generations of the opportunity to do better than their parents and to share in the prosperity of a great nation. While the corporate lobbyists and campaign donors reap the benefits, the Republican plan makes the American Dream unachievable for the vast majority of people in this country.
Join the fight for these programs today. Click here to call your Member of Congress and tell them to vote NO on the Republican's extremist budget.