WASHINGTON – The House-approved Republican budget could leave as many as 44 million more Americans without health insurance over ten years, according to a new nonpartisan report.
The debate surrounding the blueprint has focused on the plan to replace Medicare with a system of subsidies to buy private insurance. But that wouldn’t happen for 10 years, and in that time, the proposals to repeal the Affordable Care Act and turn Medicaid into a program of block grants for states could significantly grow the ranks of the uninsured.
A Kaiser Family Foundation study, conducted with the Urban Institute, concluded that those two elements of the plan would leave between 31 and 44 Americans uninsured, depending on various state scenarios that consider eligibility laws and efficiency gains, if the GOP blueprint becomes law. “Most of the people who would lose Medicaid coverage would become uninsured,” the study says.
The report gives Democrats another political weapon to attack the Republican plan, which they intend to hang around the party’s neck in the 2012 elections.
A spokesman for Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who drafted the plan, questioned the Kaiser-Urban study’s assumptions, telling The Associated Press that the proposal would allow Medicaid to grow “at a sustainable rate, so that the health care safety net will be there for those that need it most.” He also argued that the Affordable Care Act would worsen the system.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the Ryan plan would eliminate the federal deficit by 2040, in part by significantly shifting health care costs from the government-run Medicare to seniors.
House Republicans are sticking by the plan as it stands, despite some doubts from within.
The proposal has virtually no chance of passing the Democratic-led Senate or being signed into law by President Barack Obama.
Image via RyanWhiteHealth, Creative Commons licensed.