Officials Forum: Ryan Plan Reverses Important Health Care Reforms

Written by

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind
U.S. Rep. Ron Kind U.S. Rep. Ron Kind is a member of the House Ways & Means Committee and serves on the health subcommittee. He is also founder and co-chair of the Quality Care Coalition and member of the House Rural Health Care Caucus. Rep. Kind has long been committed to ensuring affordable, accessible health care for all Americans. He has been awarded the National Association of Community Healthcare Centers’ “Superhero” Award in 2010 and the National Rural Health Association’s Legislator of the Year Award in 2010.

Two years ago, we took the steps to ensure that Americans are now being protected from unfair insurance practices, are benefiting from free preventive care, and are seeing prescription drug savings and stronger Medicare benefits. Though we must continue work to reform our health care system to provide higher quality care at a better price, for all Americans, we certainly cannot go backwards.

The Republican budget repeals the Affordable Care Act and the important provisions it includes. It denies health care to children with pre-existing conditions, takes from young adults the coverage they’ve gained through their parent’s plans, denies seniors with Medicare the money they have saved in prescription drug expenses over the last two years, allows insurance companies to deny coverage to individuals when they get sick or injured, and eliminates tax cuts for small businesses to help them afford coverage for their employees.

Furthermore, it “reforms” Medicare by destroying it. The Ryan plan replaces the current guaranteed Medicare benefit with a voucher for seniors to shop in the private health care market. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that under the proposed budget, out of pocket costs for the average senior will be more than $1,200 higher by 2030 and $5,900 higher by 2050.

AARP states, “By creating a ‘premium support’ system for future Medicare beneficiaries, the proposal is likely to simply increase costs for beneficiaries while removing Medicare’s promise of secure health coverage – a guarantee that future seniors have contributed to through a lifetime of hard work.” In addition, the plan endangers access to care for low-income beneficiaries and people with disabilities under Medicaid, which would suffer cuts of up to $810 billion under the GOP budget.

Instead of reducing health care costs, the Republican budget merely shifts them onto seniors without making improvements to the health care system. It fails to change the way care is delivered, allowing the health care system to continue spending $800 billion on tests and procedures that don’t work and don’t improve patient care. And it does nothing to address the 50 million uninsured Americans whose costs when they get sick or injured are shifted to those who have insurance.

There is a better way to reduce health care spending. I’m working with health care providers in my state to reform our delivery system and change the way we pay for health care so it’s more integrated, coordinated and patient focused, improves quality and lowers costs.

This is exactly what the Affordable Care Act takes steps to do. The Act will lower Medicare spending by promoting value-based purchasing focused on high quality care; reducing preventable hospital readmissions; fighting waste, fraud and abuse; and promoting innovation. The Affordable Care Act makes historic reductions in health care spending while significantly improving patient care and strengthening Medicare.

There is no doubt that we need to slow health care spending, the fastest growing area of local, state and federal budgets. But it shouldn’t be done on the backs of seniors and the disadvantaged as the Ryan plan proposes. We must work together and continue steps taken through the Affordable Care Act to strengthen Medicare and improve our health care system so all Americans have access to quality, affordable coverage.

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