Earlier this year, the U.S. House passed the House Republican budget plan crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). It is a budget that makes deep, lasting cuts to many domestic programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, and nutrition and discretionary programs that affect many seniors. Ryan’s plan would harm the middle class while providing a windfall for millionaires. Ryan and other Medicare opponents want to change traditional Medicare from a defined set of benefits to a voucher system. Such a plan would end the traditional Medicare guarantee, in which the government insures seniors and people with disabilities for their healthcare costs. Instead, these individuals would receive a voucher to purchase insurance from the private insurance market. This plan would give beneficiaries a fixed amount for their medical care, leaving them on their own if the voucher does not cover all of their costs. While Ryan says that his plan would not affect current beneficiaries or those ages 56 and over, that is not accurate. Under Ryan’s plan, private insurers would cherry-pick the youngest, healthiest and least expensive beneficiaries, leaving Medicare with a disproportionate share of the oldest, sickest and costliest beneficiaries, driving up costs for the program and shifting those increased costs to beneficiaries. In addition, Ryan’s budget proposal would block grant Medicaid.

AFT retirees have joined with the Alliance for Retired Americans to strengthen Medicare and are actively involved in the organization’s “Medicare Turns 50” campaign.