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Opponents of latest AR state tax cuts say they benefit wealthy Arkansans; Julian Assange agrees to a plea deal that would allow him to avoid imprisonment in US; Tech-based carbon-capture projects make headway in local government; NV nonprofit calls Biden's student debt initiatives economic justice.

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KY Group: GOP Medicare, Medicaid Plans Sever Societal Covenant

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011   

BEREA, Ky. - An economic policy think tank in Kentucky finds that a plan by Congressional Republicans to reduce federal Medicaid and Medicare spending would break a long-standing American promise of basic health security for society's most vulnerable.

Jason Bailey, director of the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy in Berea, says House Republicans' plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program and give states a set amount to run Medicaid would shift more of the cost to beneficiaries or cause them to lose health benefits.

"What it would do is really change the federal role in supporting health care for seniors, for people with disabilities, for children living in poverty, in a way that would harm many Kentuckians. "

Bailey says analysis by the Congressional Budget Office shows that in 10 years, a typical 65-year-old would be paying twice as much out-of-pocket for Medicare under the GOP plan as under the traditional system. Moreover, Bailey says, shifting Medicare to the private sector would spike costs because private insurance has higher administrative costs and provider payments.

When it comes to Medicaid, Bailey underscores Kentucky's dependence on the federal-state program that serves those in poverty and with disabilities. More than 800,000 Kentuckians rely on Medicaid. Bailey believes the Republican plan to break from funding a portion of the costs and turning it into a block grant program would allow states to alter benefits and who receives them.

"Kentuckians would lose eligibility. We would throw people off the Medicaid rolls. We would cut benefits. We would cut payments to providers, which are already very low in the Medicaid program. And so fewer doctors, fewer health care providers, would accept Medicaid."

Bailey says ideas to undo Medicare and Medicaid as we know it break the country's decades-old compact to ensure basic health security for the sick, aging and impoverished.

"It would say to people, 'You're on your own.' That's a real strike against a core value we've held in this country over the last 45 years since these programs were created."

Bailey adds that the U.S. House Republicans' budget plan to eliminate the Medicaid expansion scheduled for 2014 under health care reform would deny coverage to an estimated 261,000 Kentuckians.


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