Ryan plan would hit Colorado hard, according to advocacy group

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI (Image: Flickr/Creative Commons/U.S. Embassy/Kabul)

If enacted, the Ryan Medicare plan could result in significant cuts to health programs in Colorado. The proposal, titled “The Path to Prosperity,” was introduced in April by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). The plan would overturn the Affordable Care Act and make considerable changes to both Medicare and Medicaid.

Currently Medicaid and Medicare allow states to spend money that is then matched by the federal government, and each state has its own approach to spending. Under Ryan’s budget proposal funding would work on a block grant system where the federal government would first allocate money to states, who could then decide how to spend the money on programs like Medicaid or Medicare.

There are some concerns about how these proposed budget cuts will work on a state level, including Colorado. According to Families USA, 9.3 percent of Colorado seniors are on Medicare and 28.8 percent of seniors with disabilities are enrolled in the program. Those receiving Medicare would no longer receive coverage for every service; but instead would be allotted a certain amount of credit based on income.

Ryan has suggested cuts of 5 percent to Medicaid now and a 33 percent cut by 2021. Nationally 19 percent of children are on Medicaid and 7.4 percent of Colorado children are enrolled.

Families USA also said in a press release that cuts to Medicare and Medicaid would have an adverse effect on the economy. Currently there are 30,000 Colorado workers providing direct care to those under Medicare and 840,000 informal caregivers, many whom could potentially lose work under the proposed cuts.

In an online press release, Ryan said that the cuts outlined in the budget proposal would actually help protect those receiving Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

“Critics who say our budget would leave seniors paying more are ignoring the fundamental laws of economics. In stark contrast to reducing reimbursements to providers and denying benefits to patients, our plan relies on the best cost controls ever devised: consumer choice and competition,” he said in the statement.

On June 21 Families USA will release a report titled “Jobs at Risk” about the effect budget cuts to health care will have on the Colorado economy.

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