Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Republicans' budget would harm the poor, sick, and elderly

The following is a letter I submitted to the local newspaper. Ezra Klein's blog and the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities have been particularly helpful here.

The Republicans' proposed 2012 budget would harm the poor, sick, and elderly - but benefit the rich [also see this post].

Medicaid would be converted into block grants. Currently, Medicaid costs are shared by the federal and state governments. As costs increase or decrease, funding increases or decreases. Converting it into block grants would mean that the federal government would give a chunk of money to the states at the beginning of the year. If costs increase due to a flu epidemic, for example, or if more people need Medicaid due to recession, there would be no increase to the grant. The grant would be indexed to inflation, but health care costs increase at a much higher rate than inflation.

In short, if claims increase, if we go into recession, or if health care costs rise faster than inflation, then the state would have to pick up the increased costs - which means they'll either come up with the money or cut benefits. Benefit cuts would disproportionately harm the disabled and the elderly because, while children and adults constitute 74% of the enrollees, it is the elderly and the disabled that account for 67% of actual Medicaid expenditures.

The budget proposes the same for SNAP, aka food stamps.

It also proposes the privatization of Medicare for the next generation of retirees. Because of Medicare's buying power it is much cheaper than comparable private insurance options. Under the Republican budget, there would only be a selection of private options, meaning the elderly would either have to pay higher premiums or receive lower benefits.

But there's good news if you're rich or a corporation: The Republican budget would lower the top individual and corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%.

How's that for a "path to prosperity"?

See also:

"Chairman Ryan Gets Roughly Two-Thirds of His Huge Budget Cuts From Programs for Lower-Income Americans"

"Medicaid Block Grant Would Shift Financial Risks and Costs to States"

1 comment:

  1. Well, if something isn't done fairly soon to rectify the federal government's fiscal situation we will face insolvency. And that will be a disaster for all Americans, including the poor. It might well turn America into a third world country or even led to its dissolution. Anyone that has remotely been paying attention to our fiscal problem knows that it really is that serious.

    As you know, I am in favor of big defense cuts. Nonetheless, Medicare and Medicaid are a huge chunk of the budget. There is no way in the world that the budget will be balanced without cutting them both. So I'm all in favor of it.

    Paul Ryan's plan may be a bad one. I haven't read the details. But at least he is trying to come up with a roadmap to fiscal sanity. The Democrats haven't proposed anything. They simply have their heads in the sand to this major threat to the country and complain about most any proposed cuts. But cuts are inevitable. The choice is either cuts now or much deeper cuts or even fiscal disaster later. To avoid cuts now isn't just stupid, it's downright immoral.



About Me

I'm Rachel's husband and Darcy's daddy. I'm a Hoosier, an accountant, and an Episcopalian. Politically, I'm a progressive who believes in the preferential option for the poor. I use the blog as a sort of journal - to interact with my reading and sketch out ideas.