Will slower Medicare growth save the trust funds?

Video

Event Summary

The recently released Medicare trustees' report predicted that the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will become insolvent in 2026, two years later than last year's report estimated. At an AEI event on Monday morning, health policy experts discussed the causes and implications of the trustees' predictions.

Paul Spitalnic, Medicare's acting chief actuary, presented the report's findings. He explained that he considers it very likely that certain elements of current law -- namely various cuts in payments to Medicare providers -- will be overridden, causing Medicare expenditures to grow to nearly 10 percent of gross domestic product by 2085.

Chapin White of the Center for Studying Health System Change emphasized that though such cuts may be politically untenable, they would not be unreasonable. American physicians are paid much more than physicians in other highly developed countries are paid, White explained, and thus American providers could ostensibly survive on lower payments. 

James C. Capretta of AEI and the Ethics and Public Policy Center emphasized that even if the cuts take effect, they will bluntly lower prices across the board without respect to quality, leaving seniors to struggle to gain access to necessary care.  If we do not fundamentally change Medicare's structure, Mark Pauly of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania stressed, future generations of workers will experience lower wages and higher marginal tax rates, both of which would have adverse economic consequences. 
-- Catherine Griffin 

Event Description

Medicare spending and national health spending are growing only about half as quickly as they did before 2007. The slowdown is partly a result of the 2007–08 US recession and slow recovery, but other changes may signal more permanent relief from the rising cost of health care. Will slower spending growth provide long-term fiscal relief for Medicare? Can we avoid taking difficult policy actions to save Medicare’s trust funds?

Paul Spitalnic, Medicare’s acting chief actuary, will explain the results of this year’s Medicare trustees report. A panel of experts will then discuss how developments in the health sector will affect Medicare’s long-term future.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.

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About the Author

 

Joseph
Antos
  • Joseph Antos is the Wilson H. Taylor Scholar in Health Care and Retirement Policy at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where his research focuses on the economics of health policy — including the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, the uninsured, and the overall reform of the health care system and its financing. He also studies the impact of health care expenditures on federal budget policy.

    Before joining AEI, Antos was assistant director for health and human resources at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). He has also held senior positions in the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Office of Management and Budget, and the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. He recently completed a seven-year term as health adviser to CBO, and two terms as a commissioner of the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission. In 2013, he was also named adjunct associate professor of emergency medicine at George Washington University.

    Antos has a Ph.D. and an M.A. in economics from the University of Rochester and a B.A. in mathematics from Cornell University.



    Follow Joseph Antos on Twitter.

  • Phone: 202-862-5938
    Email: jantos@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Neil McCray
    Phone: 2028625826
    Email: Neil.McCray@aei.org

 

James C.
Capretta
  • James Capretta has spent more than two decades studying American health care policy. As an associate director at the White House's Office of Management and Budget from 2001 to 2004, he was responsible for all health care, Social Security and welfare issues. Earlier, he served as a senior health policy analyst at the U.S. Senate Budget Committee and at the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means. Capretta is also concurrently a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. At AEI, he will be researching how to replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (best known as Obamacare) with a less expensive reform plan to provide effective and secure health insurance for working-age Americans and their families.

  • Email: James.Capretta@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Neil McCray
    Phone: 202-862-5826
    Email: Neil.McCray@aei.org

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