Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Donít expect action on Medicare


By The Albany Herald
    
A recent report on the financial outlook for the nation’s Social Security and Medicare programs showed some improvement in the Medicare area. Unfortunately, that will add fuel to Washington’s unofficial motto when it comes to programs that are popular with voters: Never fix today what you can put off until another term of office.
    The closest spending crisis in the programs is three years away. That’s when the Social Security fund that pays for disability benefits is expected to be depleted. The Social Security fund for retirees should be good at least until 2033, trustees of the program said.
    Meanwhile, a slower than anticipated growth in health care costs means the Medicare fund has gained a couple of extra years of life. Trustees of that program now expect it to be able to meet obligations through 2026, beating last year’s estimate of 2024.
    These are touchy programs with Americans.
    With the Baby Boomer generation on the cusp of retirement, it’s very likely that America has a disaster waiting to happen if things remain as they are now. Also, the trustees’ prediction that moved the Medicare depletion from 2024 to 2026 was based at least in part on assumptions in connection with the Affordable Care Act. We have a suspicion that when that law is fully implemented, there very well may be some unexpected costs that come to light.
    We can expect to hear a lot about the need for reform. We can expect to hear a lot about why the other side’s solutions won’t work.
    What we shouldn’t expect is any meaningful action. At least not anytime soon.


The Albany Herald (Ga.) published this editorial on June 1.




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