Earlier this week, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his proposed budget for FY 2014, "The Path to Prosperity: A Responsible, Balanced Budget" which would cut spending by more than $5 trillion over the next ten years, shift scheduled defense cuts to non-defense discretionary programs, and effectively repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In the budget, Ryan calls for a replacement for the ACA, but does not set forth the details of what such a plan would be, who it would cover, or what it would cost. As part of repealing the ACA, federal funding to expand Medicaid would end, and Medicaid would unified with SCHIP and be turned into a block grant program, giving states a fixed amount with which to provide benefits, adjusted for population growth and inflation. The proposal would also convert the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) into a block grant program. The budget calls for privatizing Medicare, by converting the system from an entitlement program to one which provides subsidies to beneficiaries to allow them to purchase health insurance in the private market.
The Ryan plan is a strong conservative response to the very progressive budget released earlier last month by the Obama administration. (See "White House Releases Ambitious, Progressive FY 2015 Budget" WICS March 7, 2014.) Neither party's proposal is likely to come to fruition, but both sides will use their respective budget proposals for political posturing in this year's rapidly approaching mid-term elections.