Medicare: 50 years old and, since health care reform, more fiscally fit

You know there’s an election coming when you start hearing politicians claiming that Medicare is on the verge of bankruptcy. And with the first presidential debate scheduled for Thursday, the Doomsday Dirge has begun. Before we bury the body, let’s check the vital signs. Last week, Medicare trustees weighed in and to paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of Medicare’s death are greatly exaggerated.

As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’s Paul N. Van de Water, Senior Fellow and Director, Policy Futures pointed out in a recent blog post, the trustees reported that Medicare’s Hospital Insurance (HI) trust fund “will remain solvent — that is, able to pay 100 percent of the costs of the hospital insurance coverage that Medicare provides — through 2030.”

And, contrary to what opponents of health care reform predicted, the Affordable Care Act has “significantly improved Medicare’s financial outlook, boosting revenues and making the program more efficient. “ Dr. Van de Water adds that the Medicare trustees “now project that the HI trust fund will remain solvent 13 years longer than before health reform was enacted.”  And the HI program’s projected 75-year shortfall of 0.68 percent of taxable payroll is much less than the 3.88 percent of payroll that the trustees estimated before health reform.

Medicare finances since ACA 8-4-2015