Tuesday, 17 July, 2018


Trustees report warns Medicare finances worsening - 6/6/2018 12:55:22 AM

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Patty Aguilar | 10 June, 2018, 09:55

Medicare and Social Security are running out of money more quickly than expected, officials said Tuesday. Income to the Medicare fund is expected to be lower than estimated a year ago because of "lower payroll taxes attributable to lowered wages in 2017 and lower levels of projected gross domestic product", the Treasury said in a "fact sheet" accompanying the report.

In 16 years, Social Security will have to cut benefits by 21%if lawmakers do nothing to cure the program's long-term funding shortfall.

To ensure both Social Security and Medicare remain solvent for decades to come, they have three basic choices: they can raise the payroll taxes paid into the programs by both employees and employers, they can cut benefits for some or all beneficiaries, or they can do some combination of the two.

Officials conceded Tuesday at a news conference at the US Treasury that the tax cuts had reduced revenues for Medicare and Social Security. But, hey, they only need three-quarters of their food, home, and medical coverage, right?

Congress has punted on the issue of shoring up the solvency for both entitlement programs for years.

The annual funding update marks the first such report since Congress did away with that panel, which was created to cut Medicare costs if spending grew too fast.

Program trustees said Congress must act to beef up the program's account in order to sustain existing services.

Finances for Social Security and Medicare, two linchpins of the USA social safety net, worsened previous year, according official projections released Tuesday.

Social Security covers 62 million people, split among retired workers and their dependents, survivors of workers who've died and disabled people.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), however, said President Trump's fiscal 2019 budget would strengthen "would strengthen the fiscal integrity of the Medicare program".

Social Security recipients are likely to see a cost of living increase of about 2.4 percent next year, working out to roughly $31 a month, government experts said. That estimate is used as a benchmark, even though under the law the separate trust funds would be exhausted independently of each other.

The forecast for Medicare, meanwhile, is a bit worse than last year's. That reflects a.06 percentage point worsening due to extending the projection period and valuation date by one year, and a.04 percentage point improvement due to new data and improved projection methods, the report said.

Both the cost-of-living increase and the Medicare outpatient premium are not officially determined until later in the year, and the initial projections can change.

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