Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Medical | By Vicki Mclaughlin

Medicare Funding To Run Out 3 Years Earlier

Medicare Funding To Run Out 3 Years Earlier

If that doesn't sound dire enough, in their annual report, the Social Security trustees said that Medicare's hospital insurance fund will be depleted in 2026, reserves for the fund that pays disability benefits would be emptied in 2032, and all Social Security reserves would be exhausted by 2034.

In another projection, the trustees estimate the hypothetical combined Social Security trust funds will be depleted in 2034 - no change from past year.

Together, the two programs have been credited with dramatically reducing poverty among older people and extending life expectancy for Americans. After that, the government predicts it will be able to pay 91 percent of promised benefits.

The report said the less favorable outlook for Medicare's hospital trust fund resulted from "adverse changes" in program income and costs.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement that there's time to fix the problems. Medicare is widely seen as a more hard problem that goes beyond the growing number of baby boomers retiring. The trustees are the commissioner of Social Security and the secretaries of labor, health and human services, and the treasury.

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Meanwhile, the trustees project that both Medicare Part B outpatient care and the Part D prescription drug program will remain adequately financed into the "indefinite future" with money from general revenues and beneficiary premiums.

The National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare advocacy group responded to the report by urging the Trump administration to allow the program to negotiate prices with drugmakers.

Medicare spending as a percentage of gross domestic product totaled 3.7 percent in 2017, and the trustees project it will increase to at least 6.2 percent by 2092. The public trustee posts are now unfilled. Government economic experts who briefed reporters Tuesday said the tax bill and other recent legislative changes from Congress on balance worsened the condition of both programs. The White House said the cuts would offset the initial drop in government revenue by spurring greater economic growth.

Higher deficits would leave less maneuvering room for policymakers when the day of reckoning finally arrives for Social Security and Medicare. That money is invested in special government securities, which also collect interest.

"Taking action sooner rather than later will permit consideration of a broader range of solutions and provide more time to phase in changes so that the public has adequate time to prepare", the trustees concluded. But now that Ryan is leaving Congress, it's unclear who will take up the mantle for budget hawks.

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