Commentary: How Paul Ryan’s Vision for America Will Affect Our Health

Access to Medicaid, Medicare and food stamp programs are all at stake. 

Posted: 08/22/2012 05:50 PM EDT
Paul Ryan

(Photo: Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

With presidential nominee Mitt Romney naming Wisconsin Sen. Paul Ryan as his running mate for the 2012 election, there are some serious concerns about how their combined policies will impact Black America.

How would a Romney-Ryan White House impact our health and access to health care?

Many believe that it could have disastrous consequences given the billions in cuts they have proposed. Ryan wants to make some serious changes to Medicare, where nearly 50 percent of the program’s 50 million participants are African-American and Latino, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Under Ryan's proposal, future seniors, those now 55 and younger, would have the option of taking a government stipend to buy insurance on the private market or apply it toward the costs of Medicare — though it is not guaranteed that the funds would cover the price of joining the traditional Medicare program.

Also, a Romney-Ryan White House would mean serious cuts to food stamp programs for working-class and low-income Americans. From the Huffington Post:

If Ryan gets his way and gets to make drastic cuts to the food stamp program, who will he really be hurting? A lot of children and senior citizens, for starters. The records show that 47 percent of everyone receiving food stamp benefits are children under the age of 18. Another 6 percent of those receiving them are seniors over the age of 60. And it doesn't stop there, 41 percent of those who are receiving food stamps actually do work. They are considered part of the "working poor" people of America.

Ryan also wants to make some scary changes to Medicaid. Over the next 10 years, Ryan wants to slash the Medicaid budget by 34 percent. He also wants to create a system where the state governments do not have to follow the federal government’s rules on Medicaid, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.

And he would eliminate almost all federal rules on what must be covered. Medicaid would become a block grant program in which the federal government turns funds over to the states to use as they wish…

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts the Ryan plan would force states to reduce payments to providers (which are already very low), limit eligibility, provide less extensive coverage, or kick in more money themselves. Any of those outcomes could push the program to the breaking point.

The nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that the Ryan plan would knock more than 30 million people off of Medicaid rolls.

These cuts would be especially harmful to the Black community. In 2009, 27 percent of African-Americans — 10 million people, including 6 million children — were covered by Medicaid [PDF], according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

This year’s election is incredibly important. And it’s crucial that everyone votes. Our lives — and our health — depend on it.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.

 

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