The big news in the world of politics last week was presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s choice of Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate. This decision spurred the expected political posturing on both sides, attempting to define what the choice means for various issues. However, almost all agree that the selection of Ryan as nominee will put the Medicaid program in the crosshairs. The New York elder law attorneys at our firm appreciate that many senior residents may be understandably jittery about discussions regarding the state of the Medicaid program.
No matter what one’s political convictions, it is important for local residents to follow the debates closely to understand what changes may or may not be coming to the Medicaid program depending on who is elected in November.
A recent CNN story offers a helpful look at the way that Medicaid perspectives differ between the candidates. Most importantly, the story notes that VP nominee Ryan has been a leader in calls for changes to various federal programs, including Medicaid. Specifically, Representative Ryan suggested in a budget proposal released earlier this year that Medicaid be turned into a “block grant” program.
Many are debating what this would actually mean for the New York Medicaid program and how local seniors and those with disabilities would be affected.
The main idea of the block grant program is that the federal government would give each state a set amount of money to cover Medicaid expenses, with states having more flexibility in how those funds are spent. Overall, however, the actual support would be far less than currently provided. In ten years, Medicaid payouts from the federal government would be 34% lower than current payments.
Our New York City elder law attorneys appreciate that this “grant” approach is far different than the current system, where Medicaid payments are based, not on a set amount, but the total number of people actually enrolled.
Proponents of the new approach suggest that it will save the country hundreds of billions of dollars over the long-term, helping to deal with chronic budget problems. However, opponents warn that many vulnerable residents who depend on the program will lose crucial support.
One analysis found that about $800 billion can be saved if the block grant proposal is enacted. Yet, an Urban Institute analysis suggests that anywhere from 14 to 27 million people nationwide would have to be dropped from the program to sustain the cuts that would come in the form of Medicaid reimbursement deductions over a ten year period.
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