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Social Security's shaky future made headlines but Medicare first to shrink

Social Security's shaky future made headlines but Medicare first to shrink


Social Security's shaky future made headlines but Medicare first to shrink

The slow but certain demise of the Social Security safety net is making headlines after a recent alarming report but there is other worrisome news: Medicare Part A is in more immediate danger.

An estimated 60 million senior citizens are well aware of the “Part A” plan, which pays for hospital stays, home health care, and other vital services, and that massive benefit is set to run out in 2026.

The alarming future for Social Security and Medicare were described in an annual trustees report that projected Social Security’s massive trust fund will be unable to pay full benefits beginning in 2034, The Associated Press reported in an August story.

Funding woes for Medicare are “unchanged” from previous estimates, the AP said, which are the vital program will be able to pay 91% of hospital bills for the elderly, for example.

"The first thing they should do is means test eligibility for Medicare," says Dean Clancy, senior health policy fellow for Americans for Prosperity. "We're wasting money on millionaires and billionaires, and that could probably end the threat right there. But there are other reforms that could also help."

For example, Clancy says the federal government can reform the program so that it pays based on the service that is provided to the patient rather than the type of facility that a hip replacement surgery, for example, takes place in.

"There are kinds of hospitals that get extra payments simply because they style themselves an ambulatory care center, or what have you, and that should be repaired," Clancy advises.

Medicare should change its payments for prescription drugs and do so in a way that promotes competition and price transparency, he adds.

“So that folks who depend on that program can get the care they need, when they need it,” he insists, “without being denied or having the benefits rationed, which is what you see in foreign countries where the government runs the heath care program."

The health policy expert does have one opinion shared by many others: Time is running out to act.

American Family News reported on Social Security's dire future in a Sept. 2 story.