Monday, 22 October, 2018

Trustees report warns Medicare finances worsening

Social Security now running a deficit; Medicare to hit insolvency three years earlier than projected Social Security to tap reserves to cover 2018 benefits
Celia Hoffman | 10 June, 2018, 08:30

On Tuesday, Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees released their 2018 Annual Report which estimated significant shortfalls in Medicare as early as 2026 - three years earlier than last projected - and that the Social Security Trust Fund will be depleted by 2034, the same year as previously reported, but concerning all the same.

President Trump pledged during the 2016 campaign to leave Social Security and Medicare benefits untouched, putting him on a crash course with Republicans on Capitol Hill who have said they wanted to tackle the programs' problems by limiting future benefit increases.

Once the funds are depleted, beneficiaries of the program will receive only three-quarters of their scheduled benefits.

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

"However, certain long-term issues persist", the statement added. The trustees are the commissioner of Social Security and the secretaries of labor, health and human services, and the treasury.

The report said the less favorable outlook for Medicare's hospital trust fund resulted from "adverse changes" in program income and costs.

A separate projection released on Tuesday showed it will become insolvent in 2034 - the same estimate as past year.

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His $1.5 trillion tax cut program reduced expected revenues for the two programs over coming years, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Trustees for the retirement and disability program revealed on Tuesday that Social Security will no longer be able to meet its obligations to beneficiaries starting in in 2034, or 16 years from now - which is less time than has elapsed since terrorists slammed airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001. At that point Social Security will be able to pay only 79% in promised benefits to retirees and disabled beneficiaries.

Medicare's problems are widely seen as more hard to solve.

The aging of the population is another factor in the growth of the two entitlement programs. And the number of people on Social Security is expected to climb to 91 million, from 62 million, in the same period.

Medicare spending as a percentage of gross domestic product totaled 3.7 percent in 2017, and the trustees project it will increase to at least 6.2 percent by 2092. That works out to about $31 a month.

The annual funding update marks the first such report since Congress did away with that panel, which was created to cut Medicare costs if spending grew too fast.

Information for this article was contributed by Robert Pear of The New York Times, and by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Andrew Taylor of The Associated Press.

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