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Hullabaloo


Friday, May 31, 2013

 
Oh look, Medicare's not going broke as fast after all

by David Atkins

Not only is the deficit shrinking to the great consternation of conservatives who want to use it as an excuse to slash social spending, it looks like Medicare is in better shape than previously thought as well:

The financial outlook for Medicare has improved because of a stronger economy and slower growth in health spending, and the financial condition of Social Security has not worsened, but is still unsustainable, the Obama administration said Friday.
And why?

“The projections in this year’s report for Social Security are essentially unchanged from last year, and those for Medicare have improved modestly,” said Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew.

The Medicare trustees — four federal officials and two public representatives — said “the modest improvement in the outlook” for Medicare’s long-term finances reflected lower projected spending for skilled nursing homes and private Medicare Advantage plans....

The administration says the outlook for the Medicare trust fund is brighter because of the 2010 health care law, which squeezed nearly $500 billion out of Medicare over 10 years. The law trimmed Medicare payments to many health care providers on the assumption that they would become more productive.
Imagine that. An improved economy and the defunding of the corporate welfare program that is Medicare "Advantage" are helping Medicare's long-term fiscal outlook.

This isn't to say that the program is sustainable in its current form. It probably isn't, for the obvious reason that an insurance pool covering the sickest and oldest Americans is always going to have challenges as healthcare costs rise. The answer to that is to either spend more money on it and make it a higher national priority, or better yet simply expand the Medicare pool to cover younger, healthier people.

You know, single-payer universal healthcare. like pretty much every other sane country on the planet.


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