Medicare Trust Fund Grows but Prognosis for Social Security Remains Grim

By Pear, Robert | Honolulu Star - Advertiser, July 28, 2014 | Go to article overview

Medicare Trust Fund Grows but Prognosis for Social Security Remains Grim


Pear, Robert, Honolulu Star - Advertiser


WASHINGTON -- Medicare's financial condition improved significantly in the last year, thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act, but the outlook for Social Security is basically unchanged, the Obama administration said Monday.

If Congress makes no change in existing law, officials said, Medicare's hospital insurance trust fund will be exhausted in 2030, four years later than the administration projected in May 2013. The Social Security trust fund, they said, will be depleted in 2033, the same as expected last year.

The forecasts were included in the government's annual report on the two programs, which together account for about 40 percent of federal spending.

Medicare spending on hospital care was lower than expected last year, the administration said, and officials have lowered their assumptions about the use of inpatient hospital services in the future.

Reports from the trustees -- four federal officials and two public representatives -- are largely prepared by career civil servants, who take pains to provide an objective assessment of the programs' finances.

Social Security provides benefits to 59 million people, and, on average, about 10,000 baby boomers become eligible each day. Payroll taxes and other revenue dedicated to Social Security would be sufficient to pay about three-fourths of promised benefits if its trust fund runs out, administration officials said.

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said the reports showed that "Social Security and Medicare are fundamentally secure. …

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