Medicare continues slide toward insolvency

Seven years from now, Medicare Part A will only be able to reimburse hospitals 89% of costs for hospital stays and related services. Twenty years later, the portion CMS can pay will fall to 77%.

That’s if Congress doesn’t act soon to fix that part of the budget, and it’s according to the appointed trustees who currently oversee Medicare.

Medicare Parts B and D aren’t in as dire straits, according to the trustees’ report summary, as those are funded by patient premiums and non-Medicare tax revenues.

This year’s projections across all Medicare programs are essentially the same as last year’s, the report authors noted.

In the same summary, released by the office of the chief actuary, the trustees of Social Security said that program’s trust funds will run dry in 2035, one year later than they projected last year.

In news reports and commentary on the report, some observers suggested Social Security’s relatively gradual pace of budgetary depletion vis-à-vis Medicare’s now-or-never fiscal urgency may help the latter gain the attention it needs for a fix.

In a press release, the office of the CMS actuary stated that President Trump’s budget for fiscal year 2020 would, if enacted, continue to strengthen the fiscal integrity of the Medicare program and extend its solvency. 

“Under President Trump’s leadership, CMS has already introduced a number of initiatives to strengthen and protect Medicare and proposed and finalized a number of rules that advance CMS’ priority of creating a patient-driven healthcare system through competition,” according to the office. “In particular, CMS is strengthening Medicare through increasing choice in Medicare Advantage and adding supplemental benefits to the program; offering more care options for people with diabetes; providing new telehealth services; and lowering prescription drug costs for seniors.”

CMS administrator Seema Verma is the secretary of the board of trustees for Medicare. The other trustees are Health and Human Services secretary Alex M. Azar, Treasury secretary and managing trustee Steven Mnuchin, Labor secretary Alexander Acosta and acting Social Security commissioner Nancy A. Berryhill.