What Does a Trump Presidency Mean for My Medicare Coverage?
Donald J. Trump will become the 45th president of the United States on January 20, 2017. While campaigning, Trump said that he doesn’t wish to cut Medicare benefits. However, a Republican-dominated White House and Congress could usher in changes, like a push for Medicare privatization, an eligibility age increase, or changes to how the program is funded.
To be clear, the information here is our best forecasting based on evidence that includes statements from Trump, his campaign staff, Congressional representatives, and other sources. The actions we expect to be taken by the new administration may change over time or may never even occur.
Before the election, we wrote about how Donald Trump’s campaign plans might affect Medicare, but now that he will be President, we wanted to address this issue again. We hope this page will help answer some questions you might have about what we might see in the coming four years.
What has Trump Said About Medicare?
As a presidential candidate, Trump had a lot to say about health care reform and the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). As his campaign site continues to state, he’s made plans to repeal all or part of the program put into law by President Barack Obama:
[It] is not enough to simply repeal this terrible legislation. We will work with Congress to make sure we have a series of reforms ready for implementation that follow free market principles and that will restore economic freedom and certainty to everyone in this country.
However, Trump more recently has appeared, according to CNN, to be open to compromise on Obamacare, saying it “will be amended, or repealed and replaced.”
Considering statements like this, you would be hard-pressed not to believe that changes could also come to Medicare, the federal social insurance program that covers millions of Americans. But as reported by The New York Daily News, Trump began his presidential campaign stating that he doesn’t plan to change Medicare benefits. He said the same about Social Security, which is a partial source of funding for Medicare programs: “Save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts. Have to do it.”
How Could Medicare Change Under a Trump Administration?
The 2016 election of Trump as president also kept Congress under Republican control, and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., will remain in his position into the next administration. Ryan has long been a proponent for privatizing Medicare, and a GOP-led federal government may be able to implement this change to the program. According to CBS News, Congressional Democrats oppose these changes, but they may not have the political ability to stop them.
Privatization would change a fundamental component of how Medicare works. In Ryan’s plan, outlined in his 2015 House budget resolution, the government would issue “premium assistance,” to seniors and other eligible individuals. Americans would use this assistance, sometimes called “vouchers,” to purchase health coverage on the open market.
Ryan and other GOP politicians also support raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, according to Forbes. If implemented, this change likely wouldn’t take place for several years, but it would nonetheless affect millions of Americans currently under the eligibility limit.
The exact details for how a privatized program would work are not certain, but it’s possible that all Medicare coverage would function more like Medicare Advantage (Part C) does now. In this program, the government allows private insurance companies to sell policies to individuals. Enrollees get access to health care services for a premium and may have to pay deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and other out-of-pocket costs.
These changes could come quickly after Trump takes office, potentially within the first six to eight months, according to Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, who spoke to Fox News. Congress could use specific budgetary tactics to implement changes to Medicare, which means Democrats and the president would have few options to stymie the effort.
The Bottom Line: Wait and See
We may not know what a Donald Trump presidency will mean for Medicare until well after his inauguration. And as we’ve reported, Trump’s choice of Seema Verma to oversee the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, could impact Medicare, too.
In addition, we may also learn more about what the Republican-controlled Congress plans to do about the program and whether the Trump administration will go along with any changes. In the meantime, MedicareHealthPlans.com will continue to provide the best answers we can about Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and your health care options.