Allahpundit highlighted the latest government report on the looming insolvency of Medicare and Social Security yesterday, but not surprisingly Rep. Paul Ryan didn’t let the opportunity go to waste either.
In their latest report, the trustees of Medicare and Social Security warn that the health and retirement security of millions of seniors remains in jeopardy if these programs are left on their present course. Decades of empty promises from politicians refusing to be honest about the need for reform are threatening to become broken promises, with disastrous consequences for seniors. In the heart of their retirement, current seniors are scheduled to be hit with a 25 percent across-the-board benefit cut when Social Security’s trust funds are exhausted. Meanwhile, Medicare’s looming insolvency puts at risk the critical access to care that seniors have come to expect from this important program.
Rather than work together to advance solutions, the President has opted to play politics with seniors’ care. The President and his party’s leaders continue to distort efforts to save and strengthen Medicare in an effort to distract seniors from the consequences of their health care law. The massive health care law raids over $500 billion from Medicare to finance a new health care entitlement, and hands Medicare’s fate over to an unaccountable board of 15 unelected bureaucrats. This board of bureaucrats will be empowered to cut Medicare in ways that will result in restricted access and denied care for current seniors, while still leaving the program bankrupt for future generations.
Seniors deserve better from President Obama. To prevent the President’s empty promises from becoming broken promises, Medicare and Social Security – critical programs designed in the mid-20th century – must be strengthened for the 21st century. I remain committed to advancing principled, bipartisan reforms that fulfill the missions of these important programs.”
According to the latest calculations by the trustees, Medicare and Social Security are insolvent to the tune of $35.5 trillion between now and 2085. But according to the trustees own Chief Actuary, the actual picture is far worse (pdf) than this. My emphasis below:
Without unprecedented changes in health care delivery systems and payment mechanisms, the prices paid by Medicare for health services are very likely to fall increasingly short of the costs of providing these services. By the end of the long-range projection period, Medicare prices for hospital, skilled nursing facility, home health, hospice, ambulatory surgical center, diagnostic laboratory, and many other services would be less than half of their level under the prior law. Medicare prices would be considerably below the current relative level of Medicaid prices, which have already led to access problems for Medicaid enrollees, and far below the levels paid by private health insurance. Well before that point, Congress would have to intervene to prevent the withdrawal of providers from the Medicare market and the severe problems with beneficiary access to care that would result. Overriding the productivity adjustments, as Congress has done repeatedly in the case of physician payment rates, would lead to substantially higher costs for Medicare in the long range than those projected under current law.
But don’t fear, the mouthpieces at the Public Affairs office of the CMS deem the situation: “stable“. Yeah, stable like the velocity of a comet plummeting towards Earth. How ridiculous.
Exit question: With Marco Rubio getting most of the buzz this week, how likely do you think it is that Romney will choose Ryan as his running mate? It’s not even clear whether entitlement reform will be a central plank of Romney’s campaign platform, and I know many Romney cynics expect him to straddle this issue as much as possible. But he’s already endorsed Ryan’s budget plan, and there is no avoiding the Mediscare campaign Democrats have waiting in the wings. If you’re going to be attacked on Ryan’s plan, who better to explain and defend it than Ryan himself.