MEDICARE REFORM: Gore, Bush Plans Inadequate
Medicare will require twice as much money by the year 2030 as it does now in order to provide the same level of benefits, and implementing the Medicare reform proposals of Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R) "would not come close" to meeting the program's needs, a report issued yesterday by the nonpartisan National Academy of Social Insurance found. CongressDaily/A.M. reports that the study "come[s] down pretty hard" on Gore's proposal to use the federal budget surplus to shore up the program and on Bush's plan to find "greater efficiencies" in the program or to offer "premium support" to seniors. The report, titled "Financing Medicare's Future," did not focus specifically on either candidate's plan, but Marilyn Moon, an Urban Institute researcher and chair of the panel that wrote the paper, said that "the two of them combined would not" make up the financing shortfall. Additional strategies, such as doubling all federal excise taxes, including the gasoline tax, would raise only 54% of the funds needed to keep Medicare operating at its current level. Furthermore, the proposal advocated by the 1999 bipartisan Medicare reform commission chaired by Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) would only reduce the shortfall by 25%. Panel member Sheila Burke added that "no one thing is going to solve this problem. It is going to have to be a combination" of strategies (Rovner, CongressDaily/A.M., 9/27). The panel added that higher taxes would be one of the necessary steps to boost funding for the program. Although the panel "declined to speculate on how much money will need to be raised to keep Medicare solvent in the coming decades," Moon did state that the program will spend an expected $3.4 trillion over the next 10 years (Cox News Service/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 9/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.