CBO: GOP Budget Would Increase Debt, Then Stick It To Medicare Patients

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The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office’s initial analysis of the House GOP budget released today by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is filled with nuggets of bad news for Republicans.

In addition to acknowledging that seniors, disabled and elderly people would be hit with much higher out-of-pocket health care costs, the CBO finds that by the end of the 10-year budget window, public debt will actually be higher than it would be if the GOP just did nothing.

Under the so-called “extended baseline scenario” — a.k.a. projections based on current law — debt held by the public will grow to 67 percent of GDP by 2022. Under the GOP plan, public debt would reach 70 percent of GDP in the same window.

In other words, the spending cuts Republicans would realize in the first 10 years would be outpaced by deficit increasing tax-cuts, which Ryan also proposes. After that, debt projections under the plan improve decade-by-decade relative to current law. That’s because 2022 would mark the beginning of the Medicare privatization plan. That’s when, CBO finds, “most elderly people would pay more for their health care than they would pay under the current Medicare system.”

If the current Medicare system were allowed to continue, CBO found that an average 65-year-old beneficiary’s costs would be only 25 percent of what it’d be in the individual private insurance market. Under the GOP plan, those costs would jump to 68 percent.

In plain English, “the gradually increasing number of Medicare beneficiaries participating in the new premium support program [the GOP’s Medicare privatization plan] would bear a much larger share of their health care costs than they would under the current program.”

Note, that the CBO hasn’t reviewed legislative language, so these numbers will likely be revised when an official cost-estimate is completed.

04 05 Ryan Letter

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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