Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

April 16, 2014

Fred Goldenberg: Cutting budgets and inflicting pain

TRAVERSE CITY — Once again Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has trundled out his latest iteration of his 2011 budget which went down in flames during his 2012 vice-presidential bid.

Sadly, this version is even more mean-spirited than the previous ones. Ryan and his cohorts plan on slashing Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, early childhood education, transportation and any other safety net program they can get their hands on. And of course, for the 58th time, repeal the Affordable Care Act.

An analysis of the budget proposal by the Centers on Budget Policies and Priorities points out that 62 percent of the spending cuts would come from low-income programs, while 37 percent of its tax benefits would go to those making more than $1 million per year.

At 6 p.m. on March 31, I went home after enrolling my last client on the Healthcare.gov Marketplace website. They joined the other 7.1 million Americans who took advantage of the health insurance coverage offered at fair and reasonable rates through the Affordable Care Act.

The next morning, April 1, my phone started ringing with clients who needed information regarding the Healthy Michigan Plan, which is our Medicaid expansion program. We’ve been directing people every day to the best resources available to them and the best way to get them.

When we get the final numbers, it is possible that upwards to 21 million Americans will have taken advantage of the Marketplace, Medicaid expansion and those under 26 who stayed on their parents plan to buy health insurance through the free market system.

In the latest issue of the Kaiser Health News, Shannon Brownlee and Eric Schultz point out that although current Medicare coverage is universal for the beneficiary, the amount of reimbursement to the providers is different throughout the country. For example, in Minneapolis, Medicare spends an average of $7,000 per beneficiary which is on the low end. In McAllen, Texas, Medicare spends about $16,000 per beneficiary.

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