April 6, 2011
The Honorable Paul Ryan
Chairman, Committee on the Budget
United States House of Representatives
207 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-6065
Dear Chairman Ryan:
On behalf of our members and other Americans who are age 50 and older, AARP writes to express serious concerns with the House Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for Fiscal Year 2012. While the budget proposal to be debated today offers new ideas for confronting our nation’s deficits and debt, AARP believes the proposal lacks balance and would reduce the security of millions of Americans, especially health security in retirement.
AARP acknowledges that the nation’s long-term debt requires attention and we are committed to lending our support to balanced policies that address the nation's long term fiscal challenges. We can only do so, however, while also honoring the contributions of our members and the needs of millions of other Americans who rely on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other important programs and services. A number of proposals in this budget put at risk millions of individuals by prioritizing budget caps and cuts over the impact on people. For example, while Social Security spending is exempt from enforceable budget caps, Medicare and Medicaid are not. We are opposed to arbitrary, across-the-board cuts that would be used to enforce the proposed budget caps because they do not distinguish between vital spending and spending that is less effective or needed.
Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act
Today’s budget proposal appropriately acknowledges that health care costs must be addressed if the federal budget is to be balanced. However, rather than recognizing that health care is an unavoidable necessity which must be made more affordable for all Americans, this proposal simply shifts these high costs onto Medicare beneficiaries, and shifts the even higher costs of increased uninsured care onto everyone else. By creating a “premium support” system for future Medicare beneficiaries, the proposal will increase costs for beneficiaries while removing Medicare’s promise of secure health coverage – a guarantee that future seniors have contributed to through a lifetime of hard work.
While we appreciate that the proposal acknowledges the serious problem of how to fix Medicare’s physician payment problem, Medicare is just one part of our nation’s health system, which includes public, individual, and employer-based health insurance. If we’re serious about lowering health care costs, we cannot simply focus on Medicare and Medicaid for savings. Rather, we must improve the delivery of health care generally, including increasing preventive services, better coordination of care, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, and the reduction of waste and fraud throughout the entire health care system. Repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would be a step backwards for many of these needed changes, as well as the needs of older Americans generally.