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Friday, April 27, 2012

FLEMING: Undeniable: Entitlements are unsustainable - Washington Times

FLEMING: Undeniable: Entitlements are unsustainable - Washington Times

Medicare is on a steady downward course to financial ruin and everyone should care. Its trustees admit that Medicare’s main trust fund could run out of money as early as 2017. Since the U.S. Treasury is under no obligation to make good the shortfalls, the checks to doctors, hospitals and pharmacies will be even less than they are today, covering a fraction of the actual cost of care, potentially shutting off access to health care for millions of seniors.

Medicare’s role in our nation’s health care system should not be underestimated. With 48.7 million beneficiaries and an annual price tag of more than $500 billion, Medicare’s share of the federal budget is 13 percent and growing. Today’s payroll deductions and retiree premiums cover less than half of Medicare’s annual price tag. In fact, for Medicare to pay for itself, payroll taxes would need to increase by 31 percent, and the cost to beneficiaries would more than quintuple to nearly $8,000 annually.

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