Monday, February 8 , 2016, 3:16 pm | Fair 80º

Rep. Lois Capps: ‘Ryan Budget’ a Bad Deal for Seniors, Families

In addition to ending key health benefits and cost savings for Medicare recipients, it proposes deep cuts to education, transportation and housing

By Rep. Lois Capps |

Last week, the vice presidential candidates took center stage for their only debate in this election. I hope all Central Coast voters tuned in and took advantage of this opportunity to examine each candidate’s record and plan for our future.

Rep. Lois Capps
Rep. Lois Capps

We heard the candidates discuss “the Paul Ryan budget” adopted by House Republicans. The Ryan budget would end Medicare as we know it, and that’s why I strongly oppose this plan and have already voted against it.

Here on the Central Coast, my opponent is campaigning with the main supporters of the Ryan budget and, if elected, his first vote in the House of Representatives will be for these same Republican leaders to control the House agenda. Abel Maldonado has benefited from hundreds of thousands of dollars in TV advertising from super PACs controlled by House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Karl Rove.

The Ryan budget would first let the Medicare Trust Fund go insolvent in 2016. Then it would radically replace Medicare’s guarantee of quality and affordable care for seniors with a voucher to pay for part of a health plan on the private market, if seniors can find a plan that will take them.

By design, the value of the voucher would not increase enough to keep up with health-care costs, and that means health-care costs would be shifted from Medicare to seniors, whether they can afford it or not. It is estimated that the average senior would pay up to $6,400 more for his or her health care.

This is why AARP opposes the Ryan plan, saying it “simply shifts high and growing health-care costs onto Medicare beneficiaries.”

And while Ryan’s voucher plan would theoretically run alongside traditional Medicare, this plan has terrible consequences for seniors. Insurance companies would cherry pick the youngest and healthiest seniors, leaving older and less healthy seniors in traditional Medicare. Traditional Medicare would become more expensive — for taxpayers and for seniors — as its beneficiaries become increasingly elderly and frail. And seniors who pick the voucher plan would have a harder time seeing the provider of their choice, if they can find a plan at all.

This is why the American Hospital Association said Ryan’s Medicare policy “will severely impact access to care for our most vulnerable patients.”

An argument you heard from Ryan is that these changes won’t affect current seniors. Don’t believe it. Ryan’s plan would repeal the free preventive care for Medicare enrollees, including cancer screenings and wellness physicals, provided by the new health-care reform law. These benefits save the average Medicare beneficiary $4,200 over the next decade — and Ryan proposes to end these important health benefits and cost savings.

Similarly, Medicare’s “doughnut hole” is closing, saving 60,000 Central Coast seniors an average of $600 on prescription drugs in 2011 alone. But the Ryan plan would reopen the doughnut hole and cost seniors more for prescription drugs.

The facts are clear: Medicare is now stronger because of the Affordable Care Act that I helped write and voted for. Health-care reform extended the Medicare Trust Fund by eight years by eliminating hundreds of billions of dollars in overpayments to private insurance companies, cracking down on fraud, and holding down payments to drug companies and other providers. Conversely, the Ryan budget’s repeal of health-care reform would make the trust fund insolvent by 2016. That is irresponsible.

But ending Medicare as we know is not the only problem with the Ryan budget.

It would also make deep cuts to Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California), cutting the program by one-third over the next 10 years and dismantling nursing home care for many Central Coast seniors. Medicaid provides two-thirds of the nursing home care for seniors who are eligible for the program.

The Ryan plan would also make deep cuts to education, transportation and housing. I’m particularly concerned that it would shortchange our students by cutting Pell Grants. In contrast, I’ve doubled funding for Pell Grants because they help so many Central Coast students afford college and get the skills they need to compete in this new global economy.

And, because the Ryan plan would also provide huge tax cuts that mainly benefit the wealthy, it wouldn’t even balance the federal budget for 28 years — if at all.

For all these reasons I’m strongly opposed to the Ryan budget. It’s the wrong plan for Central Coast seniors, and it’s the wrong plan for all Central Coast families.

I hope you’ll consider these points as you watch the upcoming presidential debates.

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, represents California’s 23rd Congressional District.

» on 10.16.12 @ 10:29 AM

Mrs. Capps, when will the $2500.00 cost savings kick in?

» on 10.16.12 @ 11:08 AM

Notice how Rep. Capps once again shows no leadership in proposing any real long term solutions to ANYTHING! Her whole article is “she’s against the Ryan budget”. Lets just pretend everything will be fine and we just have to make a few adjustments and get the “rich” to pay “a little bit” more.  Then when Social Security, Medicare and the federal debt explodes it’ll be someone else’s fault. What will Lois’s legacy really be in helping solve our fiscal and social problems?  Local funds for tattoo removal! What she’s really implying in her article is that people really should be able to contribute 25 cents to entitlement programs through taxes and receive 100 cents in benefits. Its the age old “something for nothing” campaign. Notice how the House has actually passed a BUDGET- but they can’t negotiate with the Senate version because there is no Senate version for 3 years-thanks to Lois’s pal, Harry Reid. And notice how Rep. Capps hasn’t run any ads with her 14 years of accomplishments because she doesn’t have any worth mentioning- even after 14 years in the House. Whatever happened to her promise not to run for re-election?

» on 10.17.12 @ 05:49 PM

Oh Lois, if you actually knew anything about budgets you would not have increased the national debt and sold us out to China. Please, to listen to you as a financial pundit is insulting.

» on 01.23.13 @ 01:56 AM

I just saw this nonsense.  What an absolute idiot this bobble head doll is.  You wonder why we have problems in this country when this dingbat is one of 435 members of the House of Representatives that makes our laws.  God help us.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.


Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.