On Thursday House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan promised to include his Medicare voucher program in his budget cut proposal. The voucher program is controversial and Ryan was firm, stating that those 55 and over will still receive their benefits as they are today. However, in his proposed program, those currently 54 and younger will receive a voucher to buy their own private insurance once they become eligible for Medicare. The voucher amount will depend on a person’s income and health status, with those who have a higher income receiving less. Those with incomes between $80,000 and $200,000 would get half and those with incomes above $200,000 would get 30% of the $11,000 proposed per-person allocation. He explained this is what Medicare typically pays per beneficiary now and if a person becomes ill and needs more care, more help would be available. Also, the amount would increase with inflation and take both the consumer price index and the medical component into account. If a beneficiary should choose a less expensive plan they could save the extra money in a medical savings account for future medical costs or long-term care insurance. However, a study done by the Pew Research/National Journal found that 69% of people 65 and older (of both parties) oppose replacing Medicare with the voucher system.
What do you think of the proposed Medicare voucher system? How do you think this will affect Medicare Supplements? Will supplemental insurance be sold by the same private insurance companies who accept the vouchers in conjunction with those plans?
House Speaker Boehner Tackles Entitlement Spending
IRepublican Speaker John Boehner has promised President Obama he will stand by him during the political backlash expected by proposing strong cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Boehner acknowledged that Americans have no idea how large the financial problems are for these programs. However, he states that once they understand they will be more willing to accept taking spending precautions in order to keep the programs available for future generations, no matter the iteration. With Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid taking more than 60% of the national budget, trustees estimate they only have sufficient funds to cover Medicare to 2029 and Social Security to 2037. Boehner urges that raising the debt limit is the best way to prevent our economy from going into a tailspin. He also has made it clear Republicans are not going to offer a detailed plan anytime soon. The budget will have cost containment goals, but no clear way on how to achieve them. The Hill noted, Boehner does promise “Republicans will not exploit entitlement reform for political gain if Obama shows leadership on curbing the cost of Social Security.”
Two-Week Budget Extension Signed
On Wednesday, President Obama signed a bill to keep federal agencies open thru March 18, after the Senate’s bipartisan vote to extend spending cut talks. After signing the bill he urged any budget agreement should "cut spending and reduce deficits without damaging economic growth or gutting investments in education, research and development that will create jobs and secure our future." The House takes the position that they already passed a $61 billion package of cuts to cover the remaining seven months of the fiscal year while the only legislation the Senate has produced is the temporary budget measure. Still, Senate Democrats are urging Republicans to bargain and work out a deal to finance the government through September 30th and go beyond to take on larger budget questions. Even with the White House jolting Congress into talks, having a compromise by March 18th seems lofty and it is predicted at least one more extension bill may be necessary to reach a consensus.
Forethought Medicare Supplement Now Approved in Nebraska
Forethought Medicare Supplement is now approved in Nebraska. Please contact your marketing representative at 1-800-998-7715 for more information.
Sources: KHN, The New York Times, Forbes, The Hill, The Wall Street Journal