I believe our healthcare system needs reform, but a government takeover of our nation’s healthcare system is not the solution. I support real healthcare reform that will lower the cost of care by including medical liability reform, re-importing prescription drugs, and promoting competition by allowing customers to purchase insurance across state lines. I will actively work to enact policies to increase the affordability and availability of care for all Texans.
One of the biggest reasons health care costs have been rising is that government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid – which currently account for 50 cents of every dollar spent on health care in the US – were designed in the 1960s and suffer from serious flaws that cause health care costs to rise much too fast. They are open-ended spending programs meaning that there are no controls on costs. Failure to take action and save these programs poses the greatest threat to the health and retirement security of America’s seniors.
Our Nation’s largest budget challenges are wrapped up in these entitlement programs. Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security were all created as a safety net for the most vulnerable in our society. Over the decades, however, expanded eligibility and benefits and longer life expectancy have expanded this net to its breaking point. Medicaid spending has grown at an unsustainable rate. From 2000 to 2009, total spending on Medicaid increased by 83 percent, growing from $206 billion to $378 billion. During this time, state spending doubled while federal spending increased by 111 percent. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Medicare will go bankrupt in 2024 unless we do something to save it. Similarly, the Trustees for Medicare say that without corrective legislation, the Medicare trust fund will be exhausted within the next 7 to 19 years.
Because of this, I support the reforms to Medicare and Medicaid found in the House Budget Plan for Fiscal Year 2012 (FY2012). This plan includes major proposals to save and strengthen Medicare and Medicaid. The plan does not do anything to Social Security, but simply asks that it be reformed at some time in the near future. Regarding Medicaid, this plan does not cut Medicaid benefits, but simply would convert the federal share of the Medicaid payment into a block grant. This reform is very similar to what the government did with welfare in the late 1990s. The initial allotment would be exactly as much as the states are receiving to pay for Medicaid today and would grow every year to account for inflation and population. This would allow states to tailor their programs to their low-income populations, allowing states maximum flexibility to focus benefits on the specific needs of the state.
The House budget plan will not make any changes to Medicare for Americans 55 and older. For younger workers, when they reach eligibility, Medicare will provide a Medicare payment and a list of guaranteed coverage options from which recipients can choose a plan that best suits their needs. Starting in 2022, these future Medicare beneficiaries will be able to choose a plan the same way members of Congress do. Also, this budget plan will stop the raid on Medicare from Obamacare which will cut Medicare by more than $500 billion. Any current-law Medicare savings must go to saving Medicare, not financing the creation of new open-ended health care entitlements on the backs of America’s seniors.
The House budget plan is the only serious plan put forward that saves Medicare. The alternatives involve massive tax increases, large benefit cuts or the intrusion of federal government bureaucrats into treatment decisions that should be left to doctors and patients. According to CBO, if we do not take action to save Medicare, taxes would reach higher levels relative to the size of the economy than ever recorded in the Nation’s history. This would leave our children and grandchildren with a bankrupt Nation.
The House budget plan will give our children and grandchildren a debt-free nation so they have the same opportunities to achieve the American Dream that our generation had. Over the next decade alone, our plan will cut $6.2 trillion in overall government spending and $4.4 trillion in deficit spending compared to the President’s budget. It will bring government down to below 20 percent of GDP by 2015 and put us on a path to begin to pay off our national debt. In addition, our plan will repeal and defund Obamacare, which would do away with $800 billion in tax increases and will prevent the $1.5 trillion tax increase the President called for in his budget plan.