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“Despite promises to the contrary, current beneficiaries are not protected in the Ryan budget. Under the Republican proposal, traditional Medicare would quickly become second-class medicine. It would ‘wither on the vine,’ as then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich described a similar GOP effort in 1995.” - Third Way, April 14, 2011

FRANKFORT – Today, Alison for Kentucky spokeswoman Charly Norton released the following statement:

“We applaud Don for standing up for Kentucky’s current and future seniors against Mitch McConnell’s horrible vote to do away with Medicare as we know it. Don and all Kentucky seniors are appalled at how Medicare would be destroyed if Mitch McConnell got his way. Alison is clear that in the Senate, she will stand up for all Kentucky seniors who are concerned that if Mitch McConnell had his way, Medicare would be negatively impacted.”

SUMMARY: The McConnell campaign seems to be conceding and celebrating the fact that McConnell’s vote for the Ryan Budget would have crushed many Kentucky seniors under the burden of an additional $6,000 in out of pocket costs. Ignoring the fact that they also seem to have desperately decided to attack a real Kentucky senior concerned about McConnell’s dangerous vote to decimate Medicare, their new argument that McConnell’s vote for Ryan’s extreme 2011 budget plan would not have impacted seniors like Don Disney is false. McConnell’s vote would have had an immediately negative impact on current Kentucky seniors.

When McConnell cast his vote for Ryan’s budget: (1) the forecast of implementing a new voucher system would shrink the Medicare pool and increase costs for seniors before 2022; (2) he voted to increase seniors’ drug costs — the Ryan budget would repeal protections that keep prescription drug costs down by closing the Part D loophole; (3) he voted to decrease funding to nursing homes — the Ryan budget would slash Medicaid funding.

Ways Ryan’s 2011 Budget Proposal Would Have Negatively Impacted Seniors Over 55:

The forecast of vouchers would raise out-of-pocket costs, even for seniors still on traditional Medicare. The National Journal wrote, “The plan to grandfather traditional Medicare for those older than 55 could also have negative consequences for current seniors: In 2022, when the limited-subsidy program would be introduced, seniors who qualified for traditional Medicare would be allowed to switch to the new program. If healthier or younger beneficiaries make the change to lower their out-of-pocket costs, those still participating in Medicare would be part of an insurance pool that is less healthy and more expensive. To cover those higher per-person costs, Medicare might well be forced to either raise premiums or limit reimbursements to health care providers—which could prompt many to stop taking Medicare patients.” [National Journal, 6/2/11]

Ryan’s budget would “almost immediately” raise out-of-pocket healthcare costs for 3 to 4 million seniors. The National Journal wrote, “The policies in the House GOP budget, if enacted, would begin affecting millions of seniors almost immediately by increasing their costs for prescription drugs and probably long-term care. Further, Medicare costs could rise over time if healthier seniors choose to abandon the traditional benefit program…If Congress were to pass Ryan’s plan and repeal the law, as House Republicans want, the 3 million to 4 million seniors left in the doughnut hole each year would immediately face significant out-of-pocket costs. They and all other Medicare beneficiaries would also lose access to a host of preventive-care benefits in the health care law, including free wellness visits to physicians, mammograms, colonoscopies, and programs to help smokers quit.” [National Journal, 6/2/11]

Sen. Whitehouse: “What that Republicans are saying — that this won’t affect seniors now…is flat out false.” Talking Point Memos wrote, “‘What the Republicans are saying — that this won’t affect seniors now, that the cuts are all off in future years — is flat out false,’ said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). ‘In the reform bill that we passed, we solved, over time, the problem of the Donut Hole — the dreaded coverage gap that seniors fall into when their prescriptions can’t be paid for any longer. That solution to the donut hole problem gets repealed by the Ryan budget. And that will hit home right away to seniors in Rhode Island and seniors across this country.’” [TPM, 5/19/11]

Ryan budget criticized for potential cuts to nursing-home care. The Hill reported, “While House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is pitching his Medicaid overhaul as welfare reform, healthcare providers and liberal groups are warning that its greatest impact may be on seniors. Because Medicare does not cover long-term care such as lengthy nursing home stays, some 14 million seniors and people with disabilities instead rely on Medicaid…’One million patients require long term care through Medicaid every day,’ Mark Parkinson, the president and CEO of the American Health Care Association, said in a statement. [The Hill, 4/5/11]

The Ryan budget’s cuts to Medicaid would slash funding for nursing homes. The National Journal wrote, “Perhaps more jolting, the Republican budget would cut spending on Medicaid—health care for the poor—much of which goes to long-term care for the elderly. Some 9 million seniors qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid benefits, and about two-thirds of all nursing-home residents are covered by Medicaid. The GOP budget proposes cutting some $744 billion from Medicaid over 10 years by turning the system into block grants that limit federal contributions and give states more choice in structuring benefits. No one knows exactly which Medicaid services states would choose to cut back, but senior citizens account for a disproportionate share of Medicaid outlays and would almost certainly bear some of the burden. ‘We know that two-thirds of the dollars in Medicaid go to people who are disabled or over 65, so this is the big funder of long-term care in this country,’ said David Certner, AARP’s legislative-policy director. ‘We also know this could have an impact on home- and community-based care, which is the kind of care individuals prefer the most [and] often the ones that will be cut first.’” [National Journal, 6/2/11]


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