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"?
"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"
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