This budget proposal upends vital programs without addressing skyrocketing health care costs
April 12, 2011 -- We agree with Chairman Paul Ryan that our nation’s long-term finances deserve attention, but this budget proposal upends vital programs for health and retirement security without addressing the underlying problem of skyrocketing healthcare costs.
We have strong concerns that the proposal would shift healthcare costs to seniors and the disabled—the people who can least afford an increase in cost—by replacing traditional Medicare with a system of more costly private health plans.
Medicare’s contribution to those plans would rise more slowly than healthcare costs, forcing Oregon’s seniors to pay more out of pocket over time.
Oregonians tell us overwhelmingly that they’d like to age in their own homes and communities. Rep. Ryan’s proposal would convert Medicaid to a block grant program, which could lead states to drop coverage for older Oregonians who rely on the program for long-term care in nursing homes or services that help them live with dignity in their own homes.
The budget would also repeal important new health protections and benefits, causing people in the Medicare ‘doughnut hole’ to pay more for their prescription drugs and allowing insurance companies to continue denying affordable coverage based on a person’s age and health history.
As this budget acknowledges, any changes to Social Security must be focused on ensuring the retirement security of present and future retirees, and not simply to reduce the deficit.
AARP Oregon agrees that protecting and strengthening Social Security must be done on a bipartisan basis, and we welcome the opportunity to continue the conversation with our membership and all Americans about how to achieve that goal.
Jerry Cohen is AARP Oregon state director.