KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Medicare Trustees Project Funding Will Fall Short By 2024

Last year's report predicted the same timeline for the Medicare trust fund's insolvency. Kaiser Health News is tracking today's news coverage.

The Associated Press: Aging Workforce Strains Social Security, Medicare
An aging population and an economy that has been slow to rebound are straining the long-term finances of Social Security and Medicare, the government's two largest benefit programs. Those problems are getting new attention Monday as the trustees who oversee the massive programs release their annual financial reports. Medicare is in worse shape than Social Security because of rising health care costs (Ohlemacher, 4/23).

Kaiser Health News: Trustees: Aging Population, Costs Worsen Medicare's Long-term Prognosis
Overall, the outlook for the social insurance program that covers nearly 50 million elderly and disabled people was only slightly worse than findings from last year. Once again, trustees forecast that Medicare’s hospital fund would begin to run out of money beginning in 2024, but in a politically charged campaign season, both Democrats and Republicans can be expected to use the report to their advantage. ... Today’s report emphasized that Medicare costs in both the short term and long term would rise higher than previously reported but these costs would be offset by 2 percent cuts to the program agreed to in last year’s deficit reduction agreement, unless Congress passes an alternative cost-cutting plan (Werber Serafini and Galewitz, 4/23).

The Wall Street Journal: Outlook For Social Security, Medicare Continues To Deteriorate
The trustees for the two programs said in their annual report that the long-run deficit projections for both Social Security and Medicare worsened over the last year, putting the onus on U.S. policy makers to address the problems sooner rather than later to avoid hurting seniors, low-income households and others who depend on the program (Crittenden and Morath, 4/23).

CNN: Medicare Funding Runs Short By 2024, Trustees Say
Highlighting the fiscal problems posed by growing health costs and an aging population, the trustees of Medicare estimated Monday that the program will be able to pay only a portion of promised benefits starting in 2024. That's the same year the trustees had estimated last year(Sahadi, 4/23).

Reuters: U.S. Retirement Fund To Run Dry Earlier
The deteriorating shape of Medicare and Social Security funds -- largely because of an aging U.S. population and rising healthcare costs -- highlights the need to overhaul the costly benefits programs and adds fire to the debate over how to rein in government spending (4/23).

The Hill: Trustees Say Medicare, Social Security Funds Running Out Quickly
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the trustees' reports show a clear need for Congress to make significant changes to entitlement programs, but he continued to hold firm against Republican proposals to partially privatize Medicare (Baker, 4/23).

The New York Times: Financial Outlook Dims For Social Security
The central message of the new report remains the same: the two entitlement programs are unsustainable without structural changes that have so far eluded Congress and the administration. ... The estimates ... come as Republicans and Democrats are noisily blaming each other for the perilous straits of the retirement programs. The Medicare projection also plays into the continuing battle over President Obama's health care overhaul, with his representatives among the trustees saying that Medicare would be running out of money even sooner without the new law, while opponents call into question the law’s Medicare savings (Cushman and Pear, 4/23). 

Bloomberg Businessweek: Medicare Financial Condition Holds Pat
The deal President Barack Obama made last year with Republicans to reduce the U.S. deficit may have stalled a worsening in the financial condition of Medicare. The debt-reduction legislation included cuts to Medicare payments that will be automatically enacted in 2013. Those reductions are offsetting gloomier assumptions about the nation’s future economic performance, leading to no change in the 2024 date that trustees said Medicare will exhaust its main trust fund (Wayne, 4/23).

KHN's coverage of the 2011 Medicare report: Gloomier-Than-Expected Forecast For Medicare (Galewitz and Carey, 5/13/11).


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