Warning on Medicare Finances Expected To Be Released Next Week
An upcoming report by Medicare trustees is "likely to contain a first-of-its-kind warning" that the program is projected to draw 45% of its budget from general revenue, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports.
A provision in the 2003 Medicare law requires that trustees issue a "Medicare funding warning" in the event that funding reaches these levels for consecutive years. Last year's report contained such a projection for 2012, and a projection for 2013 is scheduled to be released on Monday.
If the trustees were to issue the warning, President Bush under the law would be required to propose ways to reduce Medicare's percentage of general revenues to below 45%.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said that the warning would be "just one way of throwing some water in our faces so we look at this problem." Ryan added, "In and of itself, the trigger has nothing to do with the long-term solvency. But it serves as a wake-up call to Congress that it better get serious about reforming and saving these programs."
House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chair Pete Stark (D-Calif.) said that he largely plans to ignore the warning and would like to propose legislation eliminating it. Stark said, "I've heard the trustees tell me that the Medicare trust fund has a one-year survival up to as high as a 26-year survival. It changes every year" (Freking, AP/Contra Costa Times, 4/20).