March 30, 2004

March 30, 2004 | WebMemo on Health Care

Bitter Pills #3: Medicare Is Safe Until 2030. No, Wait. 2026. No, 2019...

The prognosis for Medicare keeps getting worse. For one thing, the date that the program's hospital insurance trust fund will run out of cash keeps moving closer and closer.

The latest report from the program's trustees, released last Tuesday, estimates the hospital insurance trust fund will be tapped out by 2019-seven years earlier than estimated last March.

But the deterioration of the hospital insurance program doesn't reflect at all the impact of the expensive new prescription drug entitlement enacted last year. That legislation raises "serious doubt about the sustainability of Medicare under current financing arrangements," the report notes.

The real Big News? That drug entitlement alone will add at least $8.1 trillion in additional promises of drug benefits that are not paid for. Unsuspecting taxpayers are going to get soaked. But there is a way out, courtesy of The Heritage Foundation. A solution-an affordable way to offer prescription drugs to Medicare patients who need them-is summarized here: Medicare's Deepening Financial Crisis: The High Price of Fiscal Irresponsibility ( March 23, 2004)

For more information or to receive an e-mail version of "Bitter Pills," contact andrew.blasko@heritage.org or call Heritage Media Services at (202) 675-1761.

"Bitter Pills" is an occasional, but regular, feature from The Heritage Foundation on how the 2003 Medicare drug law is full of sickening "surprises" that have serious consequences for seniors and taxpayers. Of course, The Heritage Foundation isn't surprised at all. We diagnosed the problems long ago in our Medicare Maladies series. Both Medicare Maladies and Bitter Pills are available on heritage.org (if you can stomach them).

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