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Medicare Trustees' Report Signals 'A Lot of Work Ahead'

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, April 25, 2012

The Cliff Notes version of the 279-page Medicare Trustees Report is that the program's Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will remain solvent until 2024, and that further action is needed to assure its long-term financial stability.

That sums up much of the media's reporting of the dense tome, which was released Monday afternoon. Immediately upon the report's release, politicians, think tanks, and policy wonks from across the political spectrum used the findings to bolster their arguments for their particular brand of healthcare reform.

Obama Administration officials played up the trustees' contention that the Affordable Care Act has extended Medicare's solvency by eight years.

 "The Trustees Report tells us that while Medicare is stable for now, we have a lot of work ahead of us to guarantee its future," Acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a media release. "The Affordable Care Act is giving CMS the ability to do this work, with tools to lower costs, fight fraud, and change incentives so that Medicare pays for coordinated, quality care and not the number of services."

The Heritage Foundation used the report to restate its case against the ACA's provider payment cuts. "Under Obamacare, seniors face a no-win situation. If the Administration's crude strategy of payment cuts is successful, reduced access to care for seniors is virtually guaranteed. If the provider cuts are reversed, the Medicare financial condition simply worsens," the conservative think tank said it a policy brief.

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