Reasons for Delay in Medicare Reform Efforts Examined
The AP/Las Vegas Sun on Monday examined how the "political and technical complexities" of the financial problems that Medicare faces have prompted President Bush and some lawmakers to address Social Security reform first, although the "looming Medicare shortage" is "seven times the size of the one that Social Security faces." According to the AP/Sun, Social Security faces "relatively clear problems and potential solutions." Social Security will require more revenue from the payroll tax to maintain current benefits as the baby boom population retires, or the federal government will have to borrow additional funds or reduce benefits.
Medicare faces the same financial problems, as well as the "added costs and complications of health care," and according to many experts, Medicare reform efforts would require a reduction in the growth in health care costs -- an "intricate task on which there is little consensus," the AP/Sun reports. Medicare reform efforts also likely would face opposition from physician and other health care provider lobbies and currently lack adequate support in Congress, the AP/Sun reports.
In addition, although an "immediate effort to cull savings from Medicare" after the enactment of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit "could be seen as an admission of error by Bush and the GOP-led Congress," Social Security reform would represent a "long-term political triumph," according to the AP/Sun (Fram, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 3/1).