Today the Senate releases its budget, which like the companion House budget released yesterday, appears to have significant cuts to the Medicare program. Yet again, yesterday’s House budget includes a proposal to create a “premium support” – or voucher – option for future Medicare beneficiaries, starting in 2024. Medicare vouchers would convert much of Medicare from a defined benefit into a defined contribution program. This would significantly undermine the traditional Medicare program, which the vast majority of beneficiaries have relied on for 50 years. It would also redesign the Medicare benefit structure by combining the deductible for Parts A and B, and adding a catastrophic cap on out-of-pocket expenses, increasing costs for most beneficiaries.
The Center has long espoused Real Solutions for Medicare Solvency and the Deficit. There are many common-sense ways to strengthen the Medicare program without placing greater burden on those it serves. To produce real savings for Medicare, beneficiaries and taxpayers, the budget should ensure Medicare pays fair prices for prescription drugs, and the same rate for beneficiaries in private Medicare plans as for those in traditional Medicare.
In addition to proposals to further privatize Medicare, the House budget would also fully repeal the Affordable Care Act, including Medicaid expansion. This would disrupt health care for millions of Americans. The proposed budget also makes deep cuts to Medicaid and jeopardizes the Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) trust fund.
The Center for Medicare Advocacy will examine both budgets more closely in the upcoming weeks.