Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) was at a retirement home in Seattle on Sunday to protest U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget proposal, which: A) scales back Medicare for seniors by giving seniors a fixed $8,000 voucher rather than guaranteed coverage (Cantwell was joined by American Association of Retired Persons Washington) and B) caps Medicaid for poor people.
Cantwell broke it down to the local level: Five hundred thousand soon-to-be seniors in Washington state would have to pay twice as much for health care (she cites the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office for that stat) and more than 60,000 seniors would to pay $38 million extra on medication.
In King County, Sen. Cantwell warns, nearly 20,000 seniors would face $9.5 million in higher prescription costs next year.
Both Cantwell and U.S. Sen. Murray (D-WA) and 48 other senators signed a letter to President Obama last week opposing the GOP house plan.
The letter says, in part:
Giving seniors a voucher of approximately $8,000 … is a reckless and irresponsible way to address the health care needs of older Americans. And it is an unacceptable means by which to finance tax cuts for those who are earning ten times or more than the retirement income of the average Medicare recipient.
Seniors, who have paid into the system their entire working lives, deserve affordable, secure health coverage upon retirement. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), in the first year of the voucher program, out-of-pocket expenses for seniors would double under the Republican plan to more than $12,500 annually. For seniors on a fixed income, a doubling of out-of-pocket expenses is simply unaffordable, particularly when the average Social Security benefit is only $14,000 per year.
The Republican budget proposal would not keep pace with the rate of inflation for health care, meaning seniors would pay ever higher out-of-pocket costs.