Senate Democrats

Reid: Republicans’ Budget Would Shut Down Medicare

Washington, D.C. — Nevada Senator Harry Reid released the following statement on the Republican budget proposal to dismantle Medicare as we know it:

“This budget proposal is more proof that Republicans have declared war on Medicare and Social Security, programs on which millions of seniors in Nevada and across the country depend. Americans rejected President George W. Bush’s attempt to privatize Social Security, and they will reject this latest plan from Republicans to end Medicare as we know it. The Republican’s plan is a boon to insurance companies at seniors’ expense. While we must cut wasteful spending and excess, Nevadans cannot afford this irresponsible proposal that will force seniors to pay more for health care at the same time that it gives tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires and protects government giveaways to big oil companies and corporations that ship American jobs overseas.”


Democrats want to cut federal spending and require government to live within its means, and favor a responsible approach to reducing the deficit that will strengthen our economy.  The new Republican budget reflects upside-down priorities – it protects special interest subsidies and tax breaks for those at the top, and cuts deep into the heart of the programs that are essential to the health of our seniors.  The Republican budget ends Medicare as we know it– converting it into a voucher-type program. While providing a windfall for the health insurance industry, it would force seniors to pay much more for health care. If Republicans get their way, premiums for more than 20 million seniors will skyrocket and they will all lose their guaranteed health benefits. Democrats are committed to protecting Medicare benefits for all, and are focused on cutting waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare without hurting seniors.

20 Million Near-Elderly Will Not Have Medicare When They Retire. Starting in 2022, Medicare will be eliminated for new beneficiaries and converted instead into a voucher program.  There are more than 20 million near-elderly Americans who are now ages 50-54 who would not get Medicare when they retire but instead only get a coupon to purchase private health insurance.  This approach would transfer control of Medicare to insurers and there would be no guaranteed benefits, essentially ending Medicare.  Moreover, the voucher will fail to keep pace with increases in the cost of health care so its value will decline every year, meaning that future seniors won’t be able to get the benefits they need or even end up uninsured.  [CBPP 3/22/11; Census 2010 data]

CBO: Voucher Proposal Will Double Health Care Costs for Seniors. The voucher will fail to keep pace with increases in the cost of health care.  As a result, seniors will be forced to pay higher premiums in order to access the same benefits they would receive under the current system.  According to the CBO, a typical senior will spend more than twice as much of his or her own income on health services under the Ryan proposal as compared to the current Medicare system. [CBO, 4/5/11]

Under the Republican Plan, Seniors Will Lose Guaranteed Benefits. Under current law, all seniors have guaranteed access to life-saving health benefits, including screenings for colon cancer, diabetes, and prostate cancer, as well as flu shots.  If the Republican plan becomes law, seniors that were eligible for guaranteed health benefits last year could lose their benefits. [Kaiser State Health Facts, accessed on 3/31/11]

Republican Proposal Could Force Seniors to Pay $3,500 More for Prescription Drugs. The proposal would “reopen” the prescription drug donut hole, requiring that seniors pay full price for prescription drugs.  As a result, on average, seniors would pay $3,500 more for their medications over the next ten years.  Seniors and people with disabilities who have high prescription drug costs could pay an additional $12,300 over the next 10 years. [HHS, 11/4/10]

CBO: Ryan Plan Means “Most Elderly People Would Pay More For Their Health Care.” In their initial analysis of the Ryan Medicare plan, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office determined, “Under the proposal, most elderly people would pay more for their health care than they would pay under the current Medicare system… Under the proposal, the gradually increasing number of Medicare beneficiaries participating in the new premium support program would bear a much larger share of their health care costs than they would under the traditional program…That greater burden would require them to reduce their use of health care services, spend less on other goods and services, or save more in advance of retirement than they would under current law.” [CBO, 4/5/11]