Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) says he wants a serious discussion about Medicare, thus seeking to justify his votes in favor of the Ryan Budget which turns Medicare into Coupon Care — because it’s the only plan out there. [LVSun] Not. Quite. There are the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which extend the life of the popular health insurance program for seniors, and there are suggestions that Medicare be able to negotiate with pharmaceutical corporations for lower prescription drug prices.
Senate candidate Shelley Berkley (D-NV1) responded.
“Berkley criticized the Ryan plan for use of government vouchers that would be used to purchase private insurance, saying bringing in for-profit companies would hurt consumers.
She advocated for better checks in the Medicare system for eliminating fraud and waste, allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies, and the re-importation of medicines to cut costs of the program.” [LVSun]
And, then there’s Medicaid. The Nevada budget draft calls for increases in education funding by $18 million and an increase in the Medicaid population estimated to require about $104 million. [NNB] Nevada can reasonably expect about 136,563 total new enrollees [Kaiser pdf] Those would be primarily low income individuals who are single parents with dependent children, and/or who are aged, blind, or disabled. [Kaiser pdf] This is precisely the group under assault in the Romney/Ryan budget which would transform the Medicaid funding into block grants.
Then what? Assuming the FY 2013 budget suggested by the Romney/Ryan Campaign, we can expect:
“Ryan’s budget turns Medicaid into a block grant that cuts the program by $810 billion over the next decade. That is a 22% reduction to the Medicaid program from the block grant.
Ryan’s budget repeals the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Medicaid expansion, cutting an additional $643 billion from Medicaid over the next decade.
In total, Ryan’s budget cuts Medicaid by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, cutting the program by one-third.
By 2050, Ryan’s budget cuts the Medicaid program by nearly three-quarters, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).” [DEC] (emphasis added)
So, while the number of individuals who need Medicaid may increase given current population trends, the Romney/Ryan plan would all but eliminate the program by 2050. Consider the impact of this on those who have elderly parents or relatives in nursing care facilities?
Representative Berkley’s position:
“Shelley Berkley has fought to protect the Medicare program that hundreds of thousands of Nevadans rely on. Shelley Berkley has never voted to cut Medicare. The healthcare law ends taxpayer subsidies to private insurance companies and cuts out waste, fraud and abuse to save the Medicare program $716 billion. This attack is particularly hypocritical given that Heller himself voted to retain these so-called “cuts” when he voted for the Ryan budget. Heller said he was “proud” to be the only politician in Washington to vote twice to end Medicare as we know it by turning the program over to insurance companies, cut benefits and increase out-of-pocket costs by $6,000.”
The Affordable Care Act, which Heller opposes, garnered Berkley’s support for its improvements in basic policy coverage; its prescriptions against insurance corporation abuses of recessions, limited lifetime benefits (junk policies), and its extension of more eligible individuals in the Medicaid program.
So, if a person’s family includes an eligible low income elderly or disabled person in need of health care services — the intelligent choice is Rep. Shelley Berkley.
** For details on the Romney/Ryan tax and spending plan click here.