The SanityPrompt

This blog represents some small and occasional efforts to add a note of sanity to discussions of politics and policy. This blog best viewed with Internet Explorer @ 1024x768

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The New York Times: Report Says Medicare Is in Poor Fiscal Shape

What am I missing? The Trustees of the Social Security Administration released a report yesterday which showed that Medicare runs into solvency issues much faster than Social Security -- something we already knew.

"the trustees emphasized, as they did last year, that Medicare's financial outlook was "much worse than Social Security's" and predicted that the monthly Medicare premiums paid by almost all Americans 65 and older would rise by 12 percent next year after a 17 percent increase this year."

"The trustees said they saw a small improvement in the condition of Medicare's hospital insurance trust fund. They forecast that it would be depleted in 2020, one year later than was predicted last year."

"The trustees predicted that "Medicare's cost will first exceed Social Security's in 2024" and will then grow rapidly as a share of the nation's economy."

Medicare premiums have risen 33% since 2003 with another double digit increase forcast for 2006. They have risen from about $60 in 2003 to about $90 in 2006. And that won't include the additional premium for prescription drugs that kicks in soon, expected to be about $35.

So why are we to believe that the major policy crisis facing this country now is Social Security and not Medicare, the health care system, or something like Global Warming? By 2024 spending on Medicare will actually exceed spending on Social Security and by 2041, the forecast date at which the Trust Fund is depleted, it will comprise a significantly greater share of GDP than Social Security. What am I missing?

Oh, that's right. The opportunity to finally dismantle Social Security. I keep forgetting.

(This last link takes you to the White House Strategy Memo on Social Security which was leaked)

"For the first time in six decades, the Social Security battle is one we can win -- and in doing so, we can help transform the political and philosophical landscape of the country. We have it within our grasp to move away from dependency on government and toward giving greater power and responsibility to individuals."

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