Trustees: Improved Medicare Outlook due to PPACA…n’ Other Stuff n’ Junk
The improved outlook for Medicare’s solvency, which increased from 2017 to 2029, is due to PPACA, say Medicare’s trustees* in their newly released summary report (the full report can be found here). The trustees essentially borrowed on the projected savings (or really anticipated cost-cutting measures) from legislated healthcare reform to extend the life of Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund specifically.
The life of Medicare’s Part B service, which covers outpatient and prescriptions costs for seniors, was also extended. But the trustees’ current projection on Part B assumes that the SGR-defined cut in Medicare reimbursement to physicians will kick in December 1, reports MedPage Today. The cut now stands at 23%. Congress has repeatedly voted to stall the cut but is yet to repeal the formula; to do so would add substantially to the deficit. (One healthcare expert recently predicted in the NEJM that Congress will never repeal the formula.)
The trustees’ report, in some ways, is a veiled warning to those Republicans (and Republican states—lookin’ at you, Missouri) who would attempt to mess legislatively with PPACA. You repeal PPACA, they might say to detractors, you doom Medicare (and Social Security) to an earlier death.
PPACA = Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; SGR = sustainable growth rate.