Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 14, 2016

Medicare Trustees Report Extends Trust Fund Solvency

The trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds on Monday released their annual report. The trustees projected that due to lower health care spending the Medicare hospital inpatient trust fund will be depleted in 2030, four years later than estimated last year.

CQ Roll Call’s Rebecca Adams reported that as a result of the trustees’ projections, Medicare Part B premiums for doctor office visits and outpatient care would remain unchanged in 2015. The trustees also forecast lower prescription drug spending than last year because of lower projected costs and higher drug rebates under Medicare’s Part D drug program.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services suggested on Monday that 2010 health care law’s cost controls have contributed to a slower rate of growth in health care spending. However, several trustees said that they couldn’t pinpoint precisely why Medicare spending has grown at a slower-than-expected rate in recent years. A House Ways and Means Committee Republican lawmaker on Monday also noted that $273 billion in mandatory federal funding bolsters the trust fund’s solvency.

In the past, the trustees report included a warning if federal funding for Medicare exceeded 45 percent of Medicare outlays. The determination or “funding warning,” required by a 2003 Medicare overhaul law, triggers required action by the administration and Congress to shore up Medicare financing. Reports from 2006-2013 noted the excess federal funding warning, but Congress has not responded with adjusting legislation. The trustees this year projected that the funding warning will not apply for the next 7 fiscal years.

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