Friday, August 6, 2010
Administration Reports Reform Good for Medicare-many have strong Doubts!
Several reports on a news conference about how the healthcare reform law will improve Medicare's long-term finances, including articles from the AP and USA Today, offer a distinctly skeptical view of the Administration's projections. None of the network newscasts mentioned the press conference, which featured Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
USA Today (8/6, Wolf), in an article titled, "Medicare Savings Projections In Dispute," says, "Republican critics and even the program's chief actuary say the new prognosis is too rosy. ... 'If you steal over a half-trillion dollars from Medicare to fund another unsustainable entitlement, Medicare won't be better off,' said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)." Richard Foster, chief actuary for CMS, said, "The financial projections shown in this report for Medicare do not represent a reasonable expectation for actual program operations. ... The recession adds a significant further element of uncertainty to the trust fund projections."
The AP (8/6, Ohlemacher, Alonso-Zaldivar) titles its article, "Medicare Fund Will Last Extra 12 Years – Maybe," and says the "annual report...gives backers of the new healthcare law evidence of a positive impact on government entitlement programs, but it also undercuts the findings with a host of caveats." The AP says that Foster's statement "amounted to a dissenting opinion."
The Wall Street Journal (8/6, McKinnon, subscription required), in an article titled, "Bullish Medicare Projection Doubted," quotes Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) as saying, "Instead of focusing on the future dates when the trust funds become insolvent-thus deluding itself that the problem is years away -- the Democratic Congress needs to understand that from a cash flow standpoint, the crisis is upon our doorstep."
The New York Times (8/6, Calmes) is not as skeptical of the Administration's findings as other outlets. The Times reports, "Medicare's hospital insurance trust fund should remain solvent until 2029," and "the long-term, 75-year shortfall for the hospital fund also is reduced, as are the projected costs of the separate Medicare Supplementary Insurance program. But both parts of the Medicare system will require additional reforms to be financially sustainable, the trustees say." Bloomberg News (8/6, Armstrong) and Reuters (8/6, Felsenthal, Somerville) also cover the story.