Statement by Mary R. Grealy, Chair, Medicare Today, on the 2015 Medicare Trustees Report
“No one wants a future in which the only ways to make Medicare financially secure are by reducing access or undermining healthcare quality.”
Today’s report by the Medicare Trustees is a sharp reminder that time is limited for policymakers to take prudent, responsible action to secure Medicare’s financial future for generations to come.
In spite of the successful efforts of multiple health industry sectors to significantly reduce Medicare’s per capita annual cost increases, the Trustees continue to project that Medicare will reach insolvency after 2030. So, according to these projections, today’s 50-year-olds who are beginning to think about their retirement years do not have assurance that Medicare will be a sustainable, affordable program after they reach 65.
Demographics, and the retirement of the baby boom generation, cannot be altered, but Medicare’s financial destiny can. The Congressional Budget Office has reported, for example, that injecting more consumer choice and market competition into the Medicare program can reduce both federal outlays as well as beneficiary out-of-pocket costs. We need to begin the debate now on how to structurally modernize Medicare so that there is ample time to enact and implement essential improvements before insolvency looms.
The Trustees Report also projects that Medicare spending levels could trigger action by the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) as early as 2017. This underscores the importance of repealing the IPAB provisions of the Affordable Care Act before that date arrives. IPAB, as structured, would result in arbitrary cuts to what Medicare pays for healthcare services instead of pursuing far-sighted reforms that strengthen the program’s value.
No one wants a future in which the only ways to make Medicare financially secure are by reducing access or undermining healthcare quality. The Medicare Trustees report tells us that this debate needs to begin immediately.