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New Analysis: Latest Cassidy/Ryan Plan Would Force More Than 650,000 Louisiana Seniors To Pay More For Their Health Care

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Plan Enacts Tax Breaks For Wealthiest Americans, But Ends Medicare As We Know It By Making It a Voucher Program and Reopens Medicare Part D Donut Hole For More Than 65,000 In Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana – A new analysis, released yesterday, of the Rep. Paul Ryan budget, which Bill Cassidy voted to enact earlier this month, finds that more than 650,000 seniors in Louisiana would be forced to pay more if Cassidy had his way and the plan became law.

According to the analysis of the Ryan budget for the upcoming year:

  • The plan ends traditional Medicare as we know it today, forcing 654,375 seniors in Louisiana into a voucher program that costs more out of pocket each year.
  • It reopens the Medicare Part D donut hole, forcing 65,043 Louisiana seniors to pay more for their prescription drugs each year.
  • 529,758 seniors across Louisiana would be forced to pay for preventive health services, such as cancer screenings and annual wellness visits, that they now receive for free.
  • It guts $8.56 billion health care for Louisiana seniors, slashing nursing home care and other health services for seniors and people with disabilities. Nursing homes would be forced to cut services, turn away seniors or close down, which could hurt more than 328,331 seniors and disabled Louisianians, and have disastrous consequences for 282 certified nursing homes in Louisiana.

“Bill Cassidy wants to raise the retirement age to 70, end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher program and force seniors and middle-class families to pay more, so that billionaires can receive a tax cut,” said Campaign for Louisiana Communications Director Andrew Zucker. “Bill Cassidy’s agenda would mean devastating consequences for more than 650,000 Louisiana seniors and their families, and if elected to the Senate Cassidy would unquestionably hurt Louisiana.”

Since he entered Congress Bill Cassidy has supported every major plan that would slash retirement benefits for seniors. He’s voted four times for the Rep. Paul Ryan budget, which ends Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher program, and voted four times to pass the Republican Study Committee budget, which raises the retirement age for Social Security to 70. Cassidy even voted for an extreme plan opposed by the AARP, because it would have forced a cut of up to 25 percent to Social Security.

BACKGROUND

654,375 Louisiana seniors would be forced out of traditional Medicare and into a voucher program. Under the Republican plan to replace Medicare’s guaranteed benefits, all Louisiana seniors will receive a voucher instead of guaranteed benefits under traditional Medicare beginning in 2024. The 654,000 Louisianans aged 45-54 at the time of the most recent Census, would see their premiums for traditional Medicare increase by 50% on average and would have to pay $800 more for their care than under current law to stay in the program. Seniors who want to keep traditional Medicare, with its guaranteed benefits and extensive physician networks, would also pay $1,200 more than healthier seniors recruited for private insurance companies’ plans. The Republican plan would drive away more healthy beneficiaries from traditional Medicare, setting off a premium spiral that could cause Medicare – currently the lifeline for 718,037 Louisiana seniors – to “wither on the vine.” [House Republican Budget, 3/12/13; CBO, 9/18/13; Census, accessed on 4/1/14; KFF, accessed on 4/1/14]

65,043 Louisiana seniors would pay more for prescription drugs next year. The Republican plan would re-open the “donut hole,” forcing seniors to pay the full cost of their prescription drugs if their yearly drug expenses are more than $2,850 for the year. As a result, more than 65,043 Louisiana seniors reaching the prescription drug “donut hole” would pay an average of $941 more in prescription drug costs in 2015 and approximately $11,918 more between now and 2022 than under current law. [Kaiser Family Foundation, 10/10/13; CMS, 2/17/13; HHS, 9/17/12; HHS, 3/21/14]

529,758 Louisiana seniors would be forced to pay for preventive health services. By repealing health reform, the Republican plan will require that the 529,758 Louisiana seniors who utilized free preventive services currently covered by Medicare in 2013, be required to pay deductibles, co-insurance, and copayments for certain services, including cancer screenings and annual wellness visits. [HHS, 3/21/14; CMS, 2/17/13]

Republican budget slashes $8.56 billion in health care for Louisiana seniors, reducing access to nursing home care. The Republican budget slashes $8.56 billion in nursing home care and other health care services for seniors and the disabled. More than 328,331 Louisiana seniors and disabled currently rely on Medicaid for their long-term care needs. The draconian cuts included in the Republican budget could have a devastating impact on the 282 certified nursing homes in Louisiana that serve 25,522 seniors and disabled, with more than half relying on Medicaid as their primary payer. As a result, nursing homes would be forced to slash services, turn away seniors, or close their doors. [House Budget Resolution, 4/1/14; CBO, 3/20/12; Kaiser Family Foundation, accessed 4/1/14]

2014: Bill Cassidy Voted For The FY 2015 Ryan Budget. [H. Con. Res. 96, Vote #177, 4/10/14]

  • 2013: Bill Cassidy Voted For The FY 2014 Ryan Budget.  [H. Con. Res. 25, Vote #88, 3/21/13]
  • 2012: Bill Cassidy Voted For The FY 2013 Ryan Budget. [H. Con. Res. 112, Vote #151, 3/29/12]
  • 2011: Bill Cassidy Voted For The FY 2012 Ryan Budget. [H. Con. Res. 34, Vote #277, 4/15/11]

2014: Bill Cassidy Voted For The FY 2015 Republican Study Committee. [H. Con. Res. 96, Vote #175, 4/10/14]

  • 2013: Cassidy Voted For The FY 2014 RSC Budget.  [H.Con.Res.25, Vote #86, 3/20/13]
  • 2012: Cassidy Voted For The FY 2013 RSC Budget. [H.Con.Res.112, Vote #149, 3/29/12]
  • 2011: Cassidy Voted For The FY 2012 RSC Budget. [H.Con.Res.34, Vote #275, 4/15/11]

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Raises Taxes On The Middle Class By $2,000, Giving Millionaires A Tax Cut Of Over $87,000 Each.  The Ryan budget proposes to lower tax rates for high-income earners from 39.6% to 25%, which would require the middle-class to pay more in taxes in order for the budget to balance as proposed.  A Tax Policy Center analysis of a similar proposal found that the tax reductions for high-income earners would cost $5.7 trillion, making it mathematically impossible “to enact Rep. Ryan’s tax policies in a deficit-neutral tax reform without including big tax increases for low- and middle-income taxpayers.”  Taxpayers with income exceeding $1 million would receive an average net tax decrease of over $87,000, according to a White House analysis.  In order to pay for these tax breaks, the Ryan budget would  raise taxes on middle class families with children by an average of at least $2,000.  [House Republican Budget Chairman’s Mark, 4/1/14; New York Times Editorial, 4/01/14; TPC, 3/15/13; TPC, 8/1/12; CTJ, 4/2/14; WH, 4/1/14; WH, 4/8/14]

  • The Ryan Plan “Would End Traditional Medicare By Capping Spending And Offer Vouchers To Buy Private Insurance.” “The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that Obama pushed for doesn’t cut Medicare; it simply reduces projected future increases in costs by $700 billion over 10 years. […] Those same reductions in the future growth of Medicare are contained in the budget bills sponsored by Ryan and approved by the same House Republicans who now say they’ll campaign against the provision. Romney has endorsed the Ryan plan. The difference is the savings in the Republican bill don’t go to help seniors with their prescription drug costs. In fact, Ryan’s legislation increases the amount senior citizens will have to pay for drugs since it repeals the health-care legislation that provides the extra subsidy. Ryan’s budget bill also would end traditional Medicare by capping spending and offer vouchers to buy private insurance.” [Bloomberg, 8/13/12]
  • The Ryan Plan “Would Essentially End Medicare.” “Republicans will present this week a 2012 budget proposal that would cut more than $4 trillion from federal spending projected over the next decade and transform the Medicare health program for the elderly, a move that will dramatically reshape the budget debate in Washington. The budget has been prepared by Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and the new chairman of the House Budget Committee, and it represents the most complete attempt so far by Republicans to make good on their promises during the 2010 midterm elections to cut government spending and deficits. Though Rep. Ryan based the Medicare portion of his budget on a previous plan created in collaboration with a Democrat, Alice Rivlin, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and long-time budget expert, the current plan isn’t likely to get much Democratic support. Instead, it will set up a broad debate over spending and the role of government heading into the 2012 general election. The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills.” [Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Reopens The Medicare Part D Donut Hole For 65,043 Louisiana Seniors. [White House, 4/9/14]

  • AARP: Health Care Reform “Protects And Strengthens Guaranteed Benefits In Medicare,” And “Closes The Dreaded Medicare Part D ‘Doughnut Hole,’ A Gap In Prescription Drug Coverage That Is Life-Threatening For Many.” [AARP, Press Release, 3/10/12]

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Will Force Seniors To Pay More To Remain In Medicare.  Under the Ryan budget proposal, more than 45 million seniors could be forced to choose between traditional Medicare and a voucher program starting in 2024.  According to a previous Congressional Budget Office report, the proposal would force seniors who want to remain in traditional Medicare to pay $800 more per year than they would have under current law, raising premiums by 50 percent.  Furthermore, seniors electing to stay in traditional Medicare and avoid buying private insurance will pay $1,200 more than seniors in private plans.  Private plans would be permitted to tailor benefit packages to attract healthier beneficiaries and leave the sicker, more expensive patients for Medicare. Over time, Medicare would become less financially viable and would have to raise premiums, driving away more healthy beneficiaries and setting off a premium spiral that could unravel the program. [House Republican Budget Chairman’s Mark, 4/1/14; CBO,  9/13/14; Census, 2010; CAP, 4/1/14; DPCC, 3/13/13; CBPP, 3/15/13]

2011: Louisiana Would Be Forced To Pay $6,800 More Per Year. According to a report by the Joint Economic Committee, the average Louisiana senior would be forced to pay $6,830.40 more in out of pocket expenses under the Ryan budget plan. [Joint Economic Committee, 5/20/11]

  • Potentially 654,375 Louisiana Seniors Would Be Forced Out Of Traditional Medicare And Into A Voucher  Program. Under the Republican plan to end Medicare as we know it, all Louisiana seniors will receive  a voucher instead of guaranteed benefits under traditional Medicare beginning in 2024. For the 654,375 Louisianans aged 45-54 at the time of the most recent Census, the value of their vouchers would be capped at growth levels that are lower than the projected increases in health care costs, forcing them to spend more out of pocket and diminishing their access to quality care. Private insurance plans will aggressively pursue the healthiest, least expensive enrollees, thereby allowing Medicare – currently the lifeline for 718,037 Louisiana seniors – to “wither on the vine.” [House Republican Budget, 3/12/13; CAP, 3/20/12; Census, accessed on 3/10/13; KFF, accessed on 3/10/13]

The FY 2015 RSC Budget Raised The Retirement Age For Social Security To 70. “This budget would slowly phase in an increase in the Social Security full-retirement age. The full retirement age would continue the current-law’s gradual increase of two months per year beginning in 2022 until the full retirement age reaches 70.” [The FY 2015 RSC Budget, accessed 4/9/14]

  • The FY 2014 RSC Budget Increased The Medicare Retirement Age To 70. “To address the increased demands on Medicare, this budget proposes raising the age of Medicare eligibility, beginning in 2024, by two months every year beginning with those born in 1959 until the eligibility age reaches 70, bringing Medicare eligibility in parity with Social Security.” [Republican Study Committee FY 2014 Budget, accessed 5/10/13]

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