Today is Medicare's 48th birthday and its future is by no means assured. Here are some of the worst problems plaguing the nearly five decades old government-run healthcare program for American seniors.
1. It hurts doctors.
According to the Wall Street Journal, a record number of doctors opted out of the program in 2012, with many of them citing Medicare’s low payment rates.
2. It drives up the cost of healthcare
3. It's plagued with fraud
The program is so rotten, a joint FBI/HHS-IG strike force had to be organized in 2007. Just last month, a federal jury in Florida convicted four seniors for a scam involving $70 million in false billings.
4. It's funded by payroll taxes
Poorer beneficiaries are more likely to become ill and consume more benefits, while the wealthy are more likely to insure privately or pay out-of-pocket. The program’s payroll tax - proportionate to income - creates “an extraordinarily progressive public program, in dollar terms or welfare terms."
5. It inspires stupid politics
Because of Medicare, politicians use inflammatory rhetoric such as “gutting Medicare” and “pushing granny off the cliff” to scare senior voters, thus discouraging efforts to reform the program.
6. It takes away health care choices from Americans
Medicare's spending will be determined under Obamacare, by the Independent Payment Advisory Board, an unelected, unaccountable bureaucracy whose decisions have the power of law.
7. It spends more money than it takes in
In fiscal year 2012, Medicare expenditures were $574.2 billion, 6.5 percent more than total revenue, according to the 2013 Board of Trustees Annual Report. These hole-digging spending habits have occurred for too long.
8. It's a federal budget buster
Medicare is a large and growing share of the federal budget: By 2035, it will account for 19 percent of the federal budget, up from 16 percent today, according to Congressional Budget Office data analyzed by the Peter G. Peterson foundation.
9. It's going to run out of money
Runaway deficits and increased spending have Medicare on the fast track toward insolvency. According to the Senate Republican Policy Committee, “the 2026 Medicare bankruptcy projection date is actually based on optimistic calculations.”
10. It's controlled by the government
It puts your health care in the hands of the Secretary of Health and Human Services, who Obamacare puts in charge, directly or indirectly, of just about everything involving your health care.