In the back-and-forth of the presidential debates and the obviously skewed TV ads, it is hard for local seniors to make heads or tails of the different proposals that candidates have on the Medicare and Medicaid system. Millions of New Yorkers rely on the programs for their healthcare and long-term care needs. Nearly one in five New York seniors participates in the Medicaid program, as it funds 70% of all nursing home stays. It is natural for residents to be confused and downright worried about what changes may or may not be coming to the program.
Most concern focuses on potential changes that the challenger, Governor Mitt Romney, might make in the event that he is elected. Those concerns are likely amplified by Governor Romney’s choice of Congressman Paul Ryan as a running mate. Congressman Ryan previously focused much of his attention while in the U.S. House of Representatives on various sweeping financial changes, including alterations to the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
What are those possible changes and how will they affect local seniors? A recent editorial in City and State New York took a look at the Romney proposals and offered a critique of the long-term impact of the program proposals. It is critical to note that this particular editorial was crafted by a current Democratic Congressman who previously worked with President Obama. It remains important to collect as many perspectives as possible to get an idea of the real impact of these possible changes. However, the editorial does offer a helpful discussion of one perspective.
Damaging Medicaid Changes?
The editorial explains how the Romney-Ryan ticket may change the current structure of Medicaid such that it more closely resembles a block-grant program. The basic idea is that the program will eventually be shifted more and more to the states, with less federal financial support over time. The argument is that this basic shift will provide more long-term stability for the program. However, while reasonable in theory, the editorial argues that the real-world effect over time will only mean cut benefits for seniors. That is because shifting the burden to the states while limiting federal resources into the programs does nothing to address the actual long-term financial stability of the program. In other words, some argue that this shift is nothing more than a hidden way for Medicaid support to be cut, with added financial burden on participants, including seniors, to keep current coverage levels.
Those criticizing the Romney plan usually agree that certain reforms are needed to preserve the long-term stability of the program. However, their proposals typically center more on curbing rising healthcare costs and lowering expenditures that way, instead of shifting control of the program and potentially capping financial support.
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