GOP budgets propose major cuts to Medicaid, other federal programs

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GOP Budget Proposals

The House and Senate Republicans released their proposed 2015 budgets, both of which call for significant changes to federal programs aimed at supporting people with disabilities. Both the House proposal, released March 14, and the Senate proposal, released March 16, would overturn the Affordable Care Act, which provides a range of new protections for people with disabilities from insurance abuses, as well as expands health care options.

Both proposals also recommend that Medicaid, the nation’s largest provider of disability health care services, be administered at the state, rather than the federal level. Specifically, each state would run its own Medicaid program with the support of a fixed amount of money from the federal government, in a process known as block granting.

Former House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan made a similar proposal every year from 2011 to 2014, prompting protests from disability advocates, many of whom view the proposal as a round-about way to cut benefits.

The House budget proposes changes to Medicare, the nation’s primary health care program for the elderly. Specifically, the proposal would change Medicare’s traditional fee-for-service structure by providing subsidies to seniors that they would use to obtain health care on the open market.

The Senate budget does not include such a proposal.

Neither proposal recommends any specific changes to Social Security Disability Insurance.

Though the House GOP has not recently released a major plan to reform SSDI, it passed a bill in early January that may make it more difficult to shore up the SSDI trust fund, which will expire in 2016 under current projections.

“Truly what’s needed is a long-term solution to the problems facing Social Security,” the House proposal stated. “One such proposal would be a bipartisan commission that would be required to study the structural deficiencies within the current Social Security system and report back with specific legislative proposals for Congress and the President to consider.”

Both plans recommend cutting more than $5 trillion during the next decade, with a goal of balancing the federal budget at the end of this period.

“For 53 of the last 60 years, the federal government has spent more than it has taken in — 53 of the last 60 years. It’s unacceptable,” Speaker of the House John Boehner said in a news release, according to Politico. “To this day, now in his seventh year in office, the president has never proposed a budget that balances. Our budget will balance, but it’s also about growing our economy, growing jobs and building economic strength for our future.”

President Obama released his own proposed budget early in February.