Medicare News

2014 Medicare and Medigap Updates

Medicare news is making headlines almost daily largely due to the passage of U.S. health care reform. After the new health care bill was signed into law in March 2010, many baby boomers and seniors began paying close attention to media accounts of current happenings with the new legislation. Since many of the stories you hear and articles you read give conflicting information, you may be wondering what the future holds for Medicare.

Medicare news circulated by those on Capitol Hill assures Americans that the future is bright.

As Medicare celebrates its 45th anniversary in the summer of 2010, some members of the Medicare board of trustees report that “its annual checkup showed that its financial health is improving thanks primarily to the health care reform law signed by President Barack Obama this year.”

The annual report presented by the Medicare board of trustees optimistically states that the life of Medicare’s hospital trust fund has been extended for 12 more years - until 2029 - because of U.S. health care reform. However, Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition states that, “The existence of trust fund balances on paper does not change the fact that Social Security and Medicare will place tremendous pressures on the rest of the budget and future taxpayers, as well as the economy as a whole.”

Medicare news from the Associated Press echoes the prediction of the Concord Coalition by stating that, "…despite assertions to the contrary by the Obama administration, the new health care law doesn't improve Medicare's solvency by much. … Demand for services is going up, and income from payroll taxes can't keep pace. Meanwhile, the government has used trust fund surpluses to pay for other needs, leaving Medicare and Social Security with a pile of IOUs."

The Medicare board of trustees’ annual report goes on to include new policies that will be enacted and enforced to improve Medicare and also states that work has already begun at the Department of Health and Human Services to collaborate with the “best minds” in the U.S on this effort. The report further states that plans are in place to create a new Innovation Center at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Medicare news circulated by those on Capitol Hill delivers an upbeat message to Americans. Part of the reason for conflicting reports going out from different media sources may be due to the fact that Medicare trustees are administration officials, while the technical work for Medicare is performed by the independent Office of the Actuary.

The optimistic picture painted by the Medicare board of trustees dims somewhat as members of the board further state that the Medicare system will "require additional reforms to be financially sustainable.” Baby boomers and seniors are well aware that not only their financial future but also that of their children and grandchildren is largely dependent on how the government handles the nation’s finances.

So, as the economic outlook of generations of Americans hangs in the balance, only time can tell what the future holds for Medicare.