Trustees report warns Medicare finances worsening

Trustees report warns Medicare finances worsening

Trustees report warns Medicare finances worsening

The trust fund for Medicare Part A, which covers hospital and nursing home costs for seniors, would run dry by 2026, three years earlier than last year's projection.

Medicare's Board of Trustees blamed the earlier depletion forecast on expectations of lower payroll taxes and less revenue from taxing Social Security benefits, both the result of the tax overhaul signed by President Donald Trump a year ago, according to a senior administration official.

The Social Security program's costs are expected to exceed its income this year, marking the first time that has happened since 1982 and forcing the USA government to dip into the retirement system's trust fund to pay benefits to participants.

For Social Security, the last time the program ran an annual deficit was in 1982, before President Reagan signed changes that set it on firmer footing for the next 30 years. The program provides health insurance to some 60 million people, most of whom are over 65 years old. At that time, funds will be sufficient to cover just 91% of Medicare Part A costs.

Costs to the fund will also be slightly higher than last year's estimates, "mostly due to higher-than-expected spending in 2017, legislation that increased hospital spending and higher Medicare Advantage payments", the trust fund report said.

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The government says Medicare's financial problems are getting worse and Social Security's can't be ignored.

Each year, the trustees project the long-term finances of Medicare, which covers about 58 million Americans.

"The current trajectories in health spending are both unsustainable and unmatched by increases in quality", Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services and a trustee of Medicare and Social Security, said on Tuesday.

"The continued delay in enacting legislative repairs renders effective solutions more elusive and poses particular risks to economically vulnerable populations", Charles Blahous and Robert Reischauer, both former public trustees of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds, wrote in a joint report published by the Bipartisan Policy Center in advance of the trustees report.

Most Social Security reform proposals call for a combination of increasing payroll taxes and cutting benefits, including recommendations to raise the full retirement age or scale back on inflation protections. Last year's Republican tax cuts also reduced projected revenue from taxes on Social Security benefits.

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