Thursday, May 26, 2011

Medicare Fund Warning

In an earlier post I'd wondered why we have debt limit laws if, every time we approach the limit, we "automatically" raise it (with claims of imminent financial crisis if we don't)? In researching the social security and medicare debacles, I realized we do the same type of thing with respect to those schemes:
The Medicare Modernization Act (2003) requires that the Board of Trustees determine each year whether the annual difference between program outlays and dedicated revenues (the bottom four layers of Chart C) exceeds 45 percent of total Medicare outlays in any of the first seven fiscal years of the 75-year projection period. In effect, the law sets a threshold condition that signals that a trust fund’s general revenue financing of Medicare is becoming excessive. In that case, the annual Trustees Report includes a determination of "excess general revenue Medicare funding." When that determination is made in two consecutive reports, a "Medicare funding warning" is triggered. The warning directs the President to submit proposed legislation within 15 days of the next budget submission to respond to the warning and requires Congress to consider the proposal on an expedited basis.

This year’s report projects the difference between outlays and dedicated financing revenues to exceed 45 percent of total Medicare outlays during fiscal year 2011, prompting a determination of "excess general revenue Medicare funding" for the sixth consecutive report, triggering another "Medicare funding warning."
It's as if just having the warning system makes people feel like they did something about the problem.

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