Share

Policy: Entitlements

Newsflash! Medicare is still going bankrupt, and taking Uncle Sam with it

By |
Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Mark Tapscott,Morning Examiner,Barack Obama,Obamacare,Health Care,Medicare and Medicaid,Entitlements,Budgets and Deficits

It's becoming a ritual. Medicare trustees release an annual report projecting bankruptcy at some point in the not-so-distant future. And America yawns.

So why should 2014 be any different? Because, as former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin points out, it's not just Medicare that Medicare is taking down, it's the federal budget.

Holtz-Eakin's observation came in a recently released report published by the American Action Forum entitled "The Future of America’s Entitlements: What You Need to Know About the Medicare Trustees Report."

Holtz-Eakin is president of AAF. He is joined on the report by co-authors Gordon Gray, AAF's director of fiscal policy, and AAF health care data analyst Conor Ryan.

Medicare can't hit major league pitching

When a ball player fresh up from the minors goes 2-for-46 in the big league, the usual conclusion is that he can't hit major league pitching.

That's Medicare's problem: As the AAF report noted, Medicare's revenue has fallen short of its spending in all but two of its 46 years since opening day in 1965.

The Medicare shortfall in 2013 was $289.2 billion. That includes a $45 billion shortfall for Medicare Part A (hospitals), $184 billion for Medicare Part B (doctors) and $59.8 billion for Medicare Part D (prescription drugs).

That's just for 2013. To close that one-year shortfall, according to AAF:

* Balancing Part A would require hiking the Medicare tax from the present 1.45 percent to 1.75 percent.

* Balancing Part B would require increasing physician's annual premiums from $1,259 to $4,935, an increase of $3,676.

* Balancing Part D would require boosting seniors' premium from $360 to $2,534, an increase of $2,174.

One-fourth of the national debt

To put Medicare's financial crisis in further perspective, consider that the program's $289.2 billion shortfall in 2013 equalled 40 percent of the federal government's annual deficit.

Over its entire life, Medicare has accumulated a $3.4 trillion shortfall, every penny of which was covered by general revenue taxes collected over and above the Medicare tax. That's just short of one-fourth of the entire national debt.

As the AAF report summarizes, "America’s fiscal trajectory is unsustainable and Medicare is the primary source of red ink driving this trajectory."

No, Obamacare didn't fix Medicare

As for President Obama's promise that the Affordable Care Act would reform Medicare to insure its availability for the future, the AAF report offered this conclusion:

"By the end of 2014, the trustees project that the Obama administration will have overseen a $1.7 trillion Medicare cash shortfall.

"At such unprecedented levels of cash shortfalls, it’s evident that President Obama and the Affordable Care Act have failed to ensure that Medicare will be there for today’s seniors, let alone the future generations of older Americans."

On today's washingtonexaminer.com

Editorial: House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan isn't seeking to relaunch LBJ's war on poverty.

EXography/Luke Rosiak: Senators' trips home decline with age and time in office, boosting claims of term limits advocates.

Columnists/Sean Higgins: How Endangered Species Act litigation means big money for environmental groups.

Columnists/Gene Healy: Like Watergate 40 years ago, Americans can bring the presidency down to size again.

Columnists/Cal Thomas: People, not politicians, improve economies.

Columnists/Byron York: The more people know about Obamacare, they less they like it.

Columnists/Jed Babbin: The four foundations of U.S. national security.

OpEds/Mark J. Fitzgibbons: House panel's proposed citizen lawsuits against bureaucrats would discourage future Lois Lerners.

OpEds/Rep. Randy Hultgren: Are government patient satisfaction surveys undermining the Hippocratic Oath?

Beltway Confidential/T. Becket Adams: Chris McDaniel doesn't want a do-over, he just wants to be declared the winner.

PennAve/Justin Green: Nate Silver says GOP has 60 percent chance of re-taking Senate.

Legal Newsline/Kyla Asbury: NCAA agrees to $70 million class-action litigation settlement on head injuries.

Video Morning Examiner: Morning Examiner with Steve Doty for Aug. 5.

In other news

USA Today: World Bank pledges $200 million to fight spread of Ebola in Africa.

NBC News: Officials say Putin has no master plan for Ukraine.

New York Post: CNN reporter groveled in apology to EMTs she bit in drunken rage.

Righty Playbook

American Thinker: CAIR, ANSWER, Hamas and terrorism.

Washington Free Beacon: Report says government accounting hides true public debt.

The Daily Caller: Docs beginning to refuse Obamacare patients.

Bonus must-read

The Federalist: U.S. foreign policy must be sustainable in public opinion, too.

Lefty Playbook

The Daily Beast: "Pro troops" charity pays off Tea Party cronies instead.

Salon: Thomas Friedman does it again.

The Huffington Post: GOP congressman accuses Dems of waging war on whites.

Bonus must-read

Mother Jones: Why is a top Tea Party PAC going after Rep. Tim Huelskamp?

View article comments Leave a comment
Author:

Mark Tapscott

Executive Editor
The Washington Examiner

More from washingtonexaminer.com