The budget proposal, much like last year’s, would shift a disproportionate share of Medicare costs to fixed-income seniors and cut nearly one-third of Medicaid spending which funds long-term care for those seniors. An independent analysis by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities attributed two-thirds of the savings in last year’s budget proposal to cuts in programs that provide critical lifelines for American seniors and low-income families. With this new House budget plan, all domestic discretionary programs from housing to meals programs would face drastic cuts.
“The proposals would shift costs to Medicare beneficiaries while cutting programs that make critical investments for the poorest Americans who are least able to absorb these cuts. We shouldn’t be asking those with the fewest resources to give first,” said B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs.
Deficit reduction is certainly necessary, and the levels of deficit reduction in the plan are not much higher than in many other proposals in the last three years from various commissions, the president and many others. However, the problems with this budget are the choices made and the priorities those choices represent.
This proposal focuses almost entirely on spending cuts rather than the more balanced, but still problematic blend of spending cuts and revenue increases found in half a dozen other recent proposals.
The budget deal reached last year included harsh spending caps and reductions over the next 10 years if the parties couldn’t reach a deal to blend spending and revenue on their own. This plan would reduce the pain on the defense side, nearly exempting defense from those “sequester” cuts, and paying for that with enormous new cuts to the domestic side, placing untenable pressure on the programs for low-income families and seniors. This violates the spirit of the previous sequester that was designed to encourage all parties to negotiate broader revenue and spending solutions by the budget deal last year.
This budget would also rely on the participation of private plans which, historically, have not saved Medicare money. Because healthier beneficiaries would be more likely to move into cheaper plans, leaving the sickest with traditional, increasingly unaffordable fee-for-service Medicare plans, it would shift the impact of rising costs onto these people.
“Because this proposed plan would be based upon a system of vouchers for Medicare beneficiaries, and because the cost of these vouchers would be tied to GDP, not to the way health care costs rise, Medicare will cover less and less over time, ” said B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin. “We must ensure any new budget does not harm those in greatest need, including the poorest elderly, many of whom have spent down their life savings and are in nursing homes.”
As a steadfast advocate for access to quality and affordable health care as well as protection for seniors B’nai B’rith International will continue to monitor budget proposals from both the executive branch and the legislative branch to ensure any new budget plan does not disproportionately affect seniors.