Medicare: Solvent until 2029–or not?

From USA Today:

Savings projected under the landmark health care law signed by President Obama this year have improved Medicare’s financial projections, but Republican critics and even the program’s chief actuary say the new prognosis is too rosy. More than $500 billion in Medicare savings projected under the law — the result of cuts to some providers and the popular, all-inclusive Medicare Advantage program — should help extend the program’s solvency by 12 years, to 2029, its trustees said Thursday.

 Not so fast, Republicans responded, noting that the same savings are being used to help extend health insurance to 32 million more Americans. “If you steal over a half-trillion dollars from Medicare to fund another unsustainable entitlement, Medicare won’t be better off,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

 Richard Foster, chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said Congress still must find a way to avoid a proposed 30% cut in payments to doctors over the next three years. He added that most health care providers aren’t likely to improve their productivity as much as forecast by the law.

 “The financial projections shown in this report for Medicare do not represent a reasonable expectation for actual program operations,” Foster wrote. “The recession adds a significant further element of uncertainty to the trust fund projections.”

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