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CBO: Republican budget ramps up medical expenses for seniors

By Sahil Kapur
Wednesday, April 6, 2011 9:45 EDT
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WASHINGTON – The ambitious Republican budget proposal unveiled Tuesday would dramatically increase health care costs for America’s seniors by 2030, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The 10-year blueprint, authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), was championed by GOP Congressional leaders and cautiously backed by 2012 presidential hopefuls. It aims to cut $6 trillion in federal spending while privatizing Medicare over ten years — Americans who turn 65 in 2022 or later would be shuffled in to the private market, where they would receive vouchers to help pay their medical expenses.

“Under the proposal, most elderly people would pay more for their health care than they would pay under the current Medicare system,” the CBO concluded in an analysis (PDF). Specifically, by 2030, seniors under the GOP’s transformed program would pay 68 percent of what they’d pay in the private market — up from 25 percent in the status quo scenario.

The plan would decrease the government’s share of health care spending to 6 percent in 2030 and 5 percent in 2050, as compared to 12 percent if current laws remain.

Although the Ryan proposal would eliminate the federal deficit by 2040, its large tax cuts for corporations and wealthy Americans would also grow the debt over the next decade. “[F]ederal debt skyrockets on an unsustainable path and exceeds its historical peak relative to GDP by the mid-2020s,” the CBO wrote.

Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research crunches the numbers and finds that, according to CBO estimates on the vouchers, the GOP plan would stick seniors with a medical bill of $20,700 come 2030. The average senior is projected to make $32,200 that year, according to the Social Security trustees.

“This is the path to prosperity,” Ryan said Tuesday as he introduced the plan.

A NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found Monday that 76 percent of Americans consider it unacceptable to cut Medicare, despite their concerns about the deficit.

The CBO released the following chart of how the plan would siphon costs between the government and beneficiary (via Ezra Klein).

 
 
 
 
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