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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ryan’s Plan Would NOT “Protect the Weak Among Us”

Megan Salzman

Staff Writer

Last night at the Republican National Convention, Governor Romney’s running mate gave a speech about what he sees for the future of America. While Paul Ryan riled up the crowd with his rhetoric, it has been widely criticized for missing something—the facts. In Ryan’s ending remarks, he said that we “need to protect the weakest among us.” While I would have to agree with him on this statement, what Ryan and many other Republican leaders are ignoring is that Ryan’s proposed budget does just the opposite.

As our very own Ben D'Avanzo touched upon in a previous blog, the Ryan budget would drastically change Medicare and Medicaid—programs that provide help to our most vulnerable populations. Ryan wants to slash the federal commitment to Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for low-income families, by $1.74 trillion over the next 10 years. That’s “trillion” with a “t.” He also wants to convert Medicaid to a block grant—meaning that states would get fixed, but significantly lower funds, which would pass the costs of the program on to states. States would then be forced to cut back their services, leaving millions low-income Americans uninsured and many more without access to care they need, like nursing home care, when they need it most.

Ryan’s plan would also end Medicare as we know it. Though he criticizes the reductions in Medicare spending in Obamacare, he keeps them and cuts $200 billion more. These additional cuts take away coverage for prescription drugs and preventive services for today’s seniors. And, his plan privatizes Medicare, leaving seniors and people with disabilities at the mercy of private insurance companies, facing rapidly rising out-of-pocket costs on their own.

Finally, the Ryan budget repeals the Affordable Care Act. But Ryan didn’t say in his speech why he would want to return to an era when insurance companies could deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions and women couldn’t receive free life-saving cancer screenings.

The Ryan plan simply does not “protect the weak among us,” no matter what the Congressman might have said last night. The Ryan budget gives the wealthy more tax breaks and stacks more on the deficit. Americans deserve a system that will deliver affordable, reliable, and quality health care. And, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, we can have it--as long as we don’t let Ryan interfere.