Medicare trust fund faces depletion by 2029, but avoids triggering IPAB

The Medicare Hospital Trust Fund is now projected to run out of money by 2029, one year later than in the 2016 report from Medicare Boards of Trustees.

As Kaiser Health News explains, the forecast means the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) won’t be triggered. The IPAB, created by the Affordable Care Act, would require mandatory cuts to Medicare when spending exceeds certain benchmarks. It was the source of the “death panel” claims when the law was being debated in 2009 and 2010, but has never been set up, though hospital groups have called for it to be repealed.

Despite avoiding automatic cuts, the trustees report did warn Medicare expenses are expected to rise along with an aging population, making up 5.6 percent of gross domestic product by 2041.

“For 51 years, Medicare has played a crucial role in providing healthcare for America’s senior citizens,” HHS Secretary Tom Price, MD said in a statement. “Unfortunately, on its current trajectory, Medicare’s hospital insurance trust fund will be depleted in just over a decade. … As the Trustees Report says, this means that reform to the program is needed.”

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