Paul Ryan Gets At Truth Of GOP Budget: ‘Yes, Some People Will Have To Pay More Out Of Pocket’

ThinkProgress filed this report from Union Grove, Wisconsin.

On Friday, during a town hall in Union Grove, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) admitted that some seniors would have to pay higher premiums and out of pocket expenses as a result of the GOP’s proposal to offer “premium support” to future retirees. He insisted however that only “higher income” seniors would see an increase in costs:

RYAN: If you’re a wealthy person you would have to pay a lot more, but if you’re a low income person you won’t and as you get sicker, you will get more coverage. So the way we look at this, given that Medicare is growing at an unsustainable path, given that there is no way that it can spend in the future what it is projected to spend…we’re saying where should the money go the most? We’re saying it should go to the people who have the least and the least amount of money should go to people who have the most. And so yes, some people will have to pay more out of pocket. I’m talking about people 54 and below.

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Ryan’s admission gets at the truth, but it doesn’t go far enough. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of Ryan’s proposal found that a “typical” 65-year old would be paying more under Ryan’s plan, regardless of income. “[A] typical beneficiary would spend more for health care…[because] private plans would cost more than traditional Medicare,” the budget office concluded. “[T]he government’s contribution would grow more slowly than health care costs, leaving more for beneficiaries to pay.”

In fact, lower-income seniors — so-called dual eligibles who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid — would also be harder hit (despite the additional government assistance). As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) points out, the Ryan budget plan would eliminate the supplemental Medicaid coverage low income seniors receive and instead give this group — which often suffers from multiple chronic conditions — a medical savings account in the amount of $7,800. That amount would grow with inflation every year and would “fall short of what is needed to cover their expenses.”  “The savings account amount would cover only 62 percent of the typical 65-year-old’s out-of-pocket expenses in 2022; this beneficiary would still have to pay an additional $4,700 in health care expenses,” CBPP concluded. “This would consume 34 percent of the income of a Medicare beneficiary living at the poverty line (an estimated $13,620 for an individual in 2022). “