Medicare's Finances: Now Even More Broken

Medicare’s finances are in even worse shape than previously thought, according to an annual report released by its Trustees today. The hospital fund is now slated to run out of coin in 2024, rather than 2029. Politico reports that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner explained that the new numbers are a result of “technical changes in the economic assumptions underlying the projections.” Translation: The economy still looks as ugly as the home of one of the Garbage Pail Kids, and that, in turn, means the Medicare's finances, which rely on the economy for their health, are more broken—and more broke—than Washington’s fiscal minders previously thought.

If anything, though, the Trustees are still overstating the studiness of program’s finances, which were “extended” with ObamaCare voodoo money. More from Politico:

In last year’s report, the trustees predicted the cost savings and tax increases in the Affordable Care Act would extend the life of the Medicare trust fund for 12 years. At that time, it was expected to run out of money in 2029, rather than 2017. That was a controversial conclusion, since most Republicans think the savings in the law can be used either to extend the life of the trust fund or to pay for the new health care reform programs, but not both.

That conclusion was “controversial,” but that's not the word I would use. Instead, I would say it was wrong. As I’ve noted on multiple occasions, it’s not just Republicans who’ve argued that the administration is double counting: The Congressional Budget Office has said so too:

To describe the full amount of HI [hospital insurance] trust fund savings as both improving the government’s ability to pay future Medicare benefits and financing new spending outside of Medicare would essentially double-count a large share of those savings.

And so has Medicare’s chief actuary:

In practice the improved (Medicare hospital insurance) financing cannot be simultaneously used to finance other Federal outlays (such as the coverage expansions) and to extend the trust fund, despite the appearance of this result from the respective accounting conventions.

And you know who else agrees with them? Why none other than the Obama administration's Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius. True, she's tended to stick to the line that ObamaCare made Medicare's finances healthier. But in a congressional hearing this year, she was pressed on the double-counting question. Asked whether ObamaCare’s Medicare cuts were “preserving Medicare or funding the health care law,” she replied with one word: “Both.”

Should you ever trust the headline estimates from an entitlement’s trustees? Perhaps not: Last year, Medicare’s Board of Trustees essentially warned that maybe you shouldn’t believe their own report.

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  • ||

    My, she sure is a handsome woman.

  • fish||

    Fucker....I wanted to say that.

  • fish||

    "Who's the effeminate dude in the "Ric Flair fright wig?"

  • ||

    "WWOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

  • ||

    So socialized medicine is a good thing, right? I can't keep up.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Caption contest:

    "And so I checked his prostate, like this..."

  • fish||

    You win! Right out of the box.

  • Restoras||

    "...and you know what, it was then I rememebered that I forgot the KY! You shoulda seen the look on Bill's face!!"

  • Chip Diller||

    ALL IS WELL!!!

  • Restoras||

    You know, I hope she doesn't pay a lot of money for that cut-and-color.

  • fish||

    More importantly...does the "carpet" match the "curtains"?

  • Rob||

    Ask her girlfriend.

  • ||

    Granted, I am no expert, and far be it for me to criticize the public servants in Washington, servanting away for the public good, but - in the private sector wouldn't all this hanky panky with the numbers be considered fraud?

  • Nichard Rixon||

    It's not fraud when the government does it

  • ||

    The hospital fund is now slated to run out of coin in 2024, rather than 2029.

    What does this even mean? Is the Medicare fund like the SocSec fund (which is to say, entirely fictional?).

    Are they trying to say that the Medicare tax won't be enough to cover Medicare outlays beginning in 2024?

  • rather||

    ten comments and only one not on her looks; how is that recruiting women to the libertarian party thing going?

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Rather well, actually.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Actually I see at least FIVE not about her looks. Thanks for playing, though.

  • rather||

    they posted nearly the same time. Read the first ten. Thanks for understanding how to play

  • fish||

    We mock because we love!

    (no...not really)

  • cynical||

    No one cares what you think, you horrible fat troll. Because you're a girl. GTFO of my clubhouse.

  • Jeffersonian||

    I look at Sebelius and see the prefect woman to play Diana Moon Glampers.

  • ||

    Yes! Finally that Harrison Bergeron movie can get off the ground!

  • ||

    "studiness"? Or "studliness"?

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