Ever since Congressman Paul Ryan was selected to be the running mate of presumptive Republican candidate for the President of the United States, the Democrats have been warning American citizens that Medicare will be transformed into a voucher system.
Understanding Congressman Ryan’s Budget Proposal
Under Congressman Ryan’s budget proposal beginning in the year 2023, any American worker under the age of 55 will have a choice of private plans competing alongside the traditional fee-for-service option on a newly created “Medicare Exchange”. This suggests that any American that is 44 years old or younger will be affected by the Ryan plan. This also suggests that any veteran who has limited health care benefits from the Veterans Administration and are back into the civilian workforce may be affected.
Retirees from military service and veterans with service connected injuries have the highest priority for health care amongst all veterans and rightly so. The VA says that health benefits are uniquely different for each veteran so it’s important for each individual to determine the eligibility of their health care provided by the VA. Current figures on the VA website say that are 22.7 million veterans in America today but only 8.5 million veterans are enrolled in the VA’s health care program. The VA has gone on record to state that “we will continue to provide Veterans with high quality, comprehensive health care and benefits they have earned through their service. VA health care does not change as a result of the Affordable Care Act.”
Congressman Ryan says that unless Congress fixes what’s broken in Medicare, without breaking what’s working, the program will end up causing what it was created to avoid – millions of American seniors without adequate health security and a younger working generation saddled with enormous debts to pay for spending commitments that can not be sustained.
The Democrat’s Stance on Medicare
The Democrats say that out of pocket costs of health coverage under the Ryan plan will rise by over $6,000 per year in 2022 and by $12,000 per year in 2032. The Ryan plan also wants to raise the Medicare eligibility age by at least one more year to age 66 and will increase by two months each year until it reaches 67 in 2033. Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California says that the Republican budget plan significantly cuts spending on Medicare by eliminating benefits and shifting costs to seniors and individuals with disabilities and that the $6,000 estimate could change by the time the year 2022 comes around. If health care increase faster than what is covered from the voucher system, seniors and the disabled will have to pay for the additional cost. Still, Republicans argue that the voucher system can make the health care system more efficient because it will allow seniors and people with disabilities the right to choose their own health care provider, while stimulating competition and lowering costs because as Congressman Ryan says “the consumer is in charge” and their health care is not managed by the federal government.
Earlier this summer, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act as constitutional. If the Affordable Care Act is repealed as the Republicans hope to do, the Democrats say that seniors and the disabled will cost more than $9,800 over the next decade for the cost of prescription drugs. Guaranteed issue of health care regardless of any medical condition may also disappear as will other provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
Active Duty Personnel and Veterans Need to Understand Their Health Care Benefits
There is much to understand and much discuss for current and future veterans and their families regarding health care benefits, particularly in this presidential election year. Health care in America now represents nearly 20% of the average American’s total income and most everyone agrees something needs to be done to lower the expenses on the consumer. Furthermore, it is unknown how the current healthcare system will be 10 years from now and those people 44 years or older should better understand their benefits from either the Republican or the Democratic program.
The following resources are provided for veterans and active military personnel to review for future health insurance coverage. But perhaps most importantly, every active military member and veteran needs to be aware that with the rising cost of health care, their benefits may also be subject to change in the next 10 years or longer. What is known, is that seniors require more health care than the typical 44 year old individual who is gainfully employed.
Congressman Paul Ryan’s Path to Prosperity budget plan
Information on current Medicare and Veterans Affairs Health Coverage
Information on determining eligibility for VA Health Benefits
Information on the VA Health Care Program