In 1965 Congress created the Medicare program to ensure all Americans over 65 had access to health care. Today, more than 57 million Americans rely on this important program. And millions more are counting on the benefits Medicare provides in the future.
Unfortunately, the program faces serious challenges. Beneficiaries have been forced to navigate a disjointed and outdated system — and Obamacare has only made these problems worse:
- Its over $800 billion in cuts to Medicare were used to fund a massive new entitlement program rather than to make the program more solvent.
- Its multi-billion dollar cuts and blunt policy changes to Medicare Advantage (MA) limit the quality, flexibility, and choice of health care plans for all Medicare beneficiaries, including the nearly 32 percent enrolled in the MA program.
- Its Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) and Centers for Medicare and Medicare Innovation (CMMI) enable unelected, unaccountable Washington bureaucrats to dictate policies that limit access to health care and disrupt how health care providers serve patients.
These challenges, combined with the growth of our aging population, have put the Medicare program on an unsustainable path. According to this year’s Trustees Report, critical parts of the program are expected to run out of money by 2028. In other words, the benefits Americans have been promised stand to disappear if policymakers don’t act soon.
House Republicans are taking action to deliver a better way. In June, we introduced a health care plan that will ensure today’s seniors and seniors in the future have access to high-quality, affordable health care choices. Through the power of choice and competition, our plan will:
Expand choices and improve quality in Medicare. Our plan repeals the most damaging Medicare provisions in Obamacare that limit choice and competition. Instead, our plan reinvests in the popular MA program, which allows seniors to enroll in private, high-quality plans that best meet their needs. We also strengthen transparency by establishing a new plan comparison tool for patients so they find the right plan at the right price for them. These reforms will make sure plans compete for beneficiaries based on quality and cost – not government mandates.
Lower costs by simplifying the Medicare benefit. Medicare’s current payment structure is confusing, inefficient, and more costly for beneficiaries. Our plan adopts bipartisan reforms to lower costs and make Medicare more responsive to patients’ actual needs. For example, we streamline physician and hospital coverage into one plan that includes catastrophic coverage, an out-of-pocket cap, a single deductible, and a uniform coinsurance. These reforms will help patients better understand the cost of care and help them spend their health care dollars more efficiently, lowering the overall cost of health care. Our plan also reforms Medigap coverage, which the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission estimates significantly drives up Medicare spending for beneficiaries.
Preserve Medicare for future generations. Starting in 2024, our plan gives future beneficiaries the opportunity to choose from an array of competing private plans alongside traditional Medicare and helps seniors pay for premium costs for the plan of their choice. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this market-based approach will help put Medicare back on a sustainable path so the program can continue to serve seniors for generations to come.
Over the next few weeks, Ways and Means will continue its series of blogs showing how Americans of all walks of life will benefit under House Republicans’ health care plan.