Medicare

Medicare Actuary Doubts the Health of Medicare's Trust Fund

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Yesterday, I noted that Medicare's Trustees cautioned readers not to put too much stock in their most recent report's rosy projections about the program's future. Today, The Washington Post notes that the entitlement's chief actuary is even more critical:

The Medicare program's chief actuary was far more skeptical, contending that the report's predictions "do not represent a reasonable expectation" of its finances. In a two-page letter accompanying the trustees' report, Richard S. Foster, a non-partisan official who has been the Health and Human Services Department's top financial expert on Medicare for 15 years, said he doubted that health-care providers will become as efficient as the new law envisions. As a result, he said, the program is unlikely to slow payments for treating patients as much as the law anticipates and, as a result, will be unable to save as much money.

As NCPA's John Goodman points out, for the first time in history, Foster went so far as to produce an alternative scenario—a scenario that begins by instructing readers to ignore the current-law projections.

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  1. Pay no attention to that unfunded entitlement behind the curtain!

  2. Does one really need to be an actuary to know this!

  3. The Medicare program’s chief actuary was far more skeptical, contending that the report’s predictions “do not represent a reasonable expectation” of its finances.

    Don’t worry – just have Paul Krugman call him a “flimflam man” and other cutesy terms a few times, and all will be well!

    1. You . . . you’re DRENCHED IN FLIMFLAM SAUCE!

  4. **SHOCKED FACE!!**

  5. What I don’t understand, except only in the cynical way we all understand why things are really done, is why these douchenozzles factor into their projections “promises” to do x, y, z in the future instead of looking at historical practices.

    1. Well, those types probably have quite a bit more faith in the ability of government to accomplish its stated goals. They’re probably optimistic about the chances of big government programs to cut waste, and downtown redevelopment schemes to bring back businesses, and whatever else the people in power promise, because it fits the opinions and prejudices they already have.

    2. Sometimes they may be required to. Like the CBO scoring a bill and putting right there in the preface that the score is complete bullshit, but it has to be done a certain way with no assumptions, even if those assumptions are near certain.

  6. There are many great actuary jokes, but his one seems appropriate:

    It’s tougher to be an actuary than to be a mathematician. A mathematician only has to prove he’s right. An actuary has to actually be right.

  7. *Double Facepalm*

  8. But I thought unfounded assumptions were fine?

    1. Only with regards to the stimulus plan, Mr. Flimflam.

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