Skip to main content

By Max Richtman
President and CEO, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
10/22/12

Originally on Huffington Post.

As we enter the final weeks of the 2012 campaign season, middle-class Americans are finally getting a glimpse of just how devastating Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan's radical plans for Medicare and Social Security would be for generations of seniors and their families. In spite of repeated attempts to deflect attention from their proposals to cut benefits and privatize these programs, it's clear that the more voters find out about the Romney/Ryan plan the less they like it. Unfortunately, Medicaid is not yet on the radar screen for most Americans. They don't realize that the Romney/Ryan plan for the 62 million Americans helped by the Medicaid program is just as destructive.

No political candidate should get a pass on a plan that fundamentally changes the Medicaid program by shifting responsibility to states through block-grants while cutting $810 billion in federal funding during the first decade alone, with even more cuts to follow. When Chairman Ryan included a similar Medicaid block-grant proposal in his budget last year, the Kaiser Family Foundation and Urban Institute estimated it would lead states to drop between 14 million and 27 million people from Medicaid by 2021. An additional 13 million people would also lose Medicaid benefits because of the repeal of health care reform promised by Governor Romney.

Many Americans don't realize that the largest component of Medicaid is long-term care for America's elderly followed by the disabled. People should be asking -- what will happen to those 30 million or more Americans who will likely lose their Medicaid coverage during a Romney/Ryan administration? Where will they go for health care coverage? As is often the case, there are no answers to these critical questions because so few people even know to ask them.

The Romney/Ryan block-grant strategy is especially problematic for people who need nursing home level of care. The average annual nursing home cost is prohibitively expensive -- over $75,000 for a semi-private room. No matter how hard they save for retirement, most middle-class families simply cannot afford the staggering costs of 24-hour skilled care and are forced to seek help from Medicaid. However, according to the Center for Medicare Advocacy, all too many nursing homes residents could lose their Medicaid coverage under the proposed Romney/Ryan plan.

States will also be able to change their Medicaid financial and eligibility rules, making residents and their relatives legally responsible for paying for a greater portion of nursing home expenses. To recover Medicaid costs, states could place a lien on the resident's property even if the resident's spouse or children continue to live in the home.

Likewise, the clock could be turned back on spousal impoverishment rules. Currently, nursing home residents' spouses are allowed to retain some of their assets and income to live in their own homes and communities. However, if the law changes, spouses could be required to contribute even more of their income forcing many who are living on the edge into certain poverty. Americans already contribute $450 billion in uncompensated care with many being forced to quit their jobs and tap into their own retirement funds to help care for a family member. Passing along even more costs to cash-strapped families does not make sense for our nation.

As our nation's population ages, we should be looking for ways to improve critical health care programs like Medicaid to protect our hardworking families. Medicaid is more efficient than private insurance (96 percent of funding goes directly to coverage) and provides a lifeline to young and old who are among the sickest, and most in need. The future of this program deserves close scrutiny during this election season and it is up to voters to ask the questions and demand straightforward answers.

Originally posted to NCPSSM on Tue Oct 23, 2012 at 06:32 AM PDT.

Also republished by Social Security Defenders.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site