| Today, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced a 10-year budget proposal that would essentially eliminate Medicare and Medicaid, replacing it with a voucher and managed-care system that would drastically curtail benefits for the poor, disabled and elderly.
"This is not a budget. This is a cause," Ryan said yesterday on Fox News. "We are here to try and fix this country's problems. If that means we are giving our political adversaries a political weapon to use against us... shame on them. We owe it to the country to give them an honest debate."
Democrats universally condemned the plan, including CA-36 candidate Debra Bowen,
"Let's be clear: these are not simply 'cuts,' and this is not simply 'reform.' This is fundamentally abolishing Medicare as we know it and replacing it with a voucher system -- one with no cost controls which will force seniors to pay a greater and greater share of their medical bills out of pocket over time.
"While the Ryan Budget is a sweet deal for private health insurance companies and multi-millionaires, it breaks the faith with America's seniors and the tens of millions of working class Americans who have paid into Medicare their whole lives. It should not be passed."
The prospects for California would be pretty grim. Low-income Medicaid beneficiaries will lose their guaranteed benefits altogether. Currently, Medicaid is a shared responsibility between the federal government and states, which are required to provide comprehensive health care benefits to people in poverty. Ryan's plan turns the program into block grants for the states -- with no guarantees.
Cash-strapped states like California would likely be forced to drop beneficiaries from the rolls should the plan become law.