Is Medicare coverage headed a “Better Way?”

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Wisconsin Senator Paul Ryan has proposed a “Better Way” health care plan to gradually replace Medicare with a “premium support” or voucher plan. His plan would transform the Medicare benefit into a competitive market-based model. Beginning in 2024, Medicare beneficiaries would have a choice of private plans (i.e. Medicare Advantage) competing with the traditional Medicare program. Medicare would provide a premium support payment to pay or offset the premium of the health plan.

Consider the following when deciding if this is a better way:

  • Since 2010, Medicare outlays per beneficiary have risen only 1.4 percent a year. Funding for Medicare Advantage, which enrolls over 33 percent of Medicare beneficiaries, was cut by $150 million because these health plans are more costly than traditional Medicare. If traditional Medicare is more cost-effective model, should we replace it?
  • Under the “Better Way,” health plan premium support payments would be adjusted so that the sick would receive more if their conditions worsened; lower-income seniors would receive more to help cover out-of-pocket costs; and wealthier seniors would assume responsibility for a greater share of their premiums. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities projected that out-of-pocket costs would more than double by 2022 if the premium support proposal was adopted. Will premium supports be able to keep pace with health care inflation so that out-of-pocket costs do not increase every year?
  • In 2020 the Medicare retirement age would gradually increase to correspond with that of Social Security. By increasing the age of eligibility, aren’t we hurting those who are most vulnerable and forcing most everyone to work longer?

A push to implement the “Better Way” health plan may happen very soon. Call or email your U.S. Senators and Congressperson today and tell them how you feel about the proposed changes to Medicare.