Headlines, June 5, 2018
The New York Times: Medicare’s Trust Fund Is Set To Run Out In 8 Years. Social Security, 16.
The Washington Post: A Crucial Medicare Trust Fund Will Run Out Three Years Earlier Than Predicted, New Report Says
The Wall Street Journal: Social Security Expected To Dip Into Its Reserves This Year
The Associated Press: Trustees Report Warns Medicare Finances Worsening
USA Today: Medicare, Social Security Face Money Challenges, Affordable Care Act
Modern Healthcare: Medicare Funds Drying Up Faster Than Estimated
Bloomberg: Medicare Fund Falls Short In 2026, Sooner Than Last Forecast
Politico: Medicare To Go Broke Three Years Earlier Than Expected, Trustees Say
Medicare Financial Outlook Worsens
By Phil Galewitz
Kaiser Health News, June 5, 2018
Medicare’s financial condition has taken a turn for the worse because of predicted higher hospital spending and lower tax revenues that fund the program, the federal government reported Tuesday.
In its annual report to Congress, the Medicare board of trustees said the program’s hospital insurance trust fund could run out of money by 2026 — three years earlier than projected last year.
Juliette Cubanksi, associate director of Kaiser Family Foundation’s Medicare Policy Program, cautioned that the report doesn’t mean Medicare is going bankrupt in the next decade but Part A will only be able to pay 91 percent of covered benefits starting in 2026.
She noted that Congress has never let the trust fund go bankrupt. In the early 1970s, the program came within two years of insolvency. But the 2026 estimate marks the closest the program has come to insolvency since 2009, the year before the Affordable Care Act was approved.
Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center, said Congress still has plenty of time to act without making changes that harm beneficiaries.
“I worry about fear mongering and the need to do something radical to the program,” he said.
By Don McCanne, M.D.
Every year the Medicare trustees project the year in which the funds for Part A of Medicare will be inadequate to pay the full costs for that year, based on anticipated revenue and spending. Each year the media then report the pending insolvency of Medicare. This is nonsense.
Although revenues and demographics may change, adjustments are made to keep the program fully funded. Only if Congress were to decide to destroy Medicare would funding be reduced below sustainable levels. This is particularly ironic since this year the Republicans in their budget have already made a statement that we do not have to have adequate revenues to pay our bills – producing a budget with a trillion dollar deficit.
Our job is to elect representatives who support Medicare – not just for current beneficiaries but for everyone, in an improved version. The inevitable political support would ensure full funding forever.
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