Health care spending by the federal government and seniors could increase if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, according to a report released on Monday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
The ACA includes several provisions that would reduce costs for Medicare beneficiaries and improve costs and delivery efficiency elsewhere in the health care system, an accompanying brief notes. "Repeal of the ACA would undo these changes, raise costs for beneficiaries and increase federal spending at a time when the nation is struggling to address the deficit and debt," the brief states.
For example, Medicare beneficiaries would have to pay more out-of-pocket for benefits that cover hospital stays, physician visits, prescription drugs and preventive services. A repeal of the ACA also would impede efforts to close the coverage gap in the Medicare prescription drug benefit known as the "doughnut hole," the report notes.
In addition, reversing the $716 billion in provider reductions under the ACA that extended the solvency of Medicare's hospital insurance trust fund by 12 years to 2024 would cause the fund to become insolvent in 2016, the report adds.
According to "Healthwatch," the findings bolster President Obama's argument that a plan by Republican vice presidential nominee and House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (Wis.) to overhaul Medicare would increase seniors' costs.
The plan -- in Ryan's House-approved budget proposal, which GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has endorsed -- would transform Medicare into a premium support program in which beneficiaries would receive a subsidy to purchase insurance in the private market (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 9/10).
Group Discusses Study Critical of Ryan-Romney Plan
Officials at the Center for American Progress on Monday discussed a recent study, which found that the Ryan-Romney Medicare plan would result in higher costs for seniors and increased profits for insurers, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 9/10).
The study -- which was conducted by Harvard University professor David Cutler, a senior health care adviser to Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, and released by the CAP Action fund -- showed that under the Ryan-Romney plan, an individual retiring at age 65 in 2023 would have to pay an average of $59,500 more for health care throughout their retirement (California Healthline, 9/10).
During a media conference call organized by CAP, Cutler defended the findings and said he used "conservative" estimates throughout the study that were "very kind" to the Ryan-Romney plan (Millman, Politico, 9/10).
GOP Medicare Plan Would Take Years To Implement, Experts Say
The Ryan-Romney Medicare proposal to turn Medicare into a "voucher" system is unlikely to become legislation or law until after the 2016 presidential election, according to two health policy experts with the Brookings Institution, Reuters reports.
At a conference hosted by America's Health Insurance Plans on Monday, former Congressional Budget Office Director Robert Reischauer and Henry Aaron -- who both proposed a premium support model for Medicare in a 1995 Health Affairs journal article -- said the plan proposed by the GOP lacks specifics and is not "ready for prime time" (Morgan, Reuters, 9/10).