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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Part 3: A decimated Medicaid program

Marc Steinberg

Deputy Director of Health Policy

What Governor Romney Doesn’t Want People Over 55 to Hear About His Medicare Plan

A five-part blog series about what’s really in Romney’s Medicare plan

Part 3: A decimated Medicaid program

I’ve covered two key areas where the Romney-Ryan plan for health care would cause significant problems for people with Medicare today and those counting on it in the near future: 1) prescription drug and preventive services costs, and 2) Medicare premiums and co-insurance. The next issue isn’t technically a Medicare issue at all, but it’s vitally important for the health care seniors and people with disabilities. It’s the Romney-Ryan plan to slash Medicaid.

Why should people with Medicare be concerned about Medicaid? The most important reason is long-term care. No one likes to think they’re going to need long-term care, whether it’s moving to a nursing home or getting someone to come to your home to help you with basic activities like getting dressed, bathing, or going to the bathroom. But it happens to a lot of us, and most people don’t realize that Medicare has very limited coverage for long-term care. If you, or your parent or grandparent, needs to go into a nursing home, or get help from a health care worker to stay in their home, chances are it’s going to be Medicaid, not Medicare, that’s going to cover it. There are about 6 million people with Medicare today who also have Medicaid coverage. Most of them have long-term care needs, and many of them are middle-class folks whose income has been almost totally consumed by health care costs. There are another roughly 2 million low-income people with Medicare who rely on Medicaid to help pay their $99.90 per month in Medicare premiums, as well as their co-insurance.

Governor Romney’s plan would cut Medicaid by about one-third in the next 10 years .The plan doesn’t specify what benefits would be lost as a result of this cut. Instead, it leaves it up to states, which administer the Medicaid program, to decide what they would drop. But with a cut of at least 33 percent in federal funding, you can be sure that long-term care for seniors and people with disabilities would be on the chopping block very soon, and people at or near retirement would be the first ones to get hurt. That’s another reason why older Americans should take a close look at the Romney-Ryan health care plan.

Next: Draining the Medicare trust fund