GOP attacked over Medicare; Dems block reforms to nation’s health care programs
Democrats went on the offensive yesterday, attacking Republicans over a proposal to privatize Medicare and scale back Medicaid.
The Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate yesterday easily rejected a Republican-controlled House-backed budget plan calling for major reforms to the nation's health care programs.
Colorado progressive groups said such reforms to the nation's health care programs for the poor and elderly would cost Colorado greatly.
More than 526,200 Coloradans received Medicaid coverage in 2010, according to a policy analysis by the liberal-leaning Bell Policy Center.
Under a Republican proposal to fund Medicaid under block grants Ń supported by Congressman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. Ń fewer Coloradans would be eligible for health care assistance, according to the think tank.
Ryan also proposed privatizing Medicare, which critics say would only increase cost burdens on states.
"Americans know Medicare didn't get us into this financial pickle, yet the Republicans in Congress want to pick on Medicare because they've never liked the program," said Congressman Ed Perlmutter, D-Lakewood. "Medicare is not harming the financial success of this country, so why are we blaming a program that is working and helping seniors have healthier, longer lives?"
Republicans argue that the country would save trillions over the coming decades by privatizing Medicare. They also believe that block grants to pay states for Medicaid, or sending states a set amount of money each year for the program, would also help to reduce the nation's deficit by $1 trillion.
The two forms of federal health assistance represent nearly a quarter of all federal spending.
But the Bell Policy Center says such reforms would cost insured Coloradans an additional $1.8 billion by 2020.
The state would pay an estimated $72.5 million annually to cover uninsured Coloradans, said the Bell Policy Center.
"While Medicaid block grants would be less costly as the federal level, costs would certainly be transferred to the states," writes the think tank.
In a Tweet following the vote yesterday, Congresswoman Diana DeGette, D-Denver, cheered Senate Democrats for rejecting the budget proposal.
"Thankfully, for our seniors' sake, reason prevailed," she said.