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

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, April 25, 2012

Despite all the posturing, John Gorman, chairman of Gorman Health Group, a Washington, DC-based consulting group, called the trustees report "a very serious document."

"What you are seeing is all the spin in an election year around such a politically charged document," he says. "Anything as politically charged as Medicare, when the politics of the deficit are driven by this program, any trustees' report is going to go off like a thunderclap in an election year in this town."

"Everybody is making hay with it," he says, "but at the end of the day, I thought this was a positive report that said at least the measures taken in the last couple of years appear to be working at least for the short term."

Gorman says the trustees held firm on the 2024 solvency date for Medicare for the second consecutive year. In 2010, the trustees knocked five years off the solvency of the trust because they were anxious about the weak economy. "So if they are holding the line on the date of insolvency you can assume the trustees feel the economy has improved and rather dramatically since their last report and that Medicare is on a stronger footing," he said.

Paul Keckley, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, says the underlying assumptions in the report are driven by "a level of economic recovery that is difficult to predict."

Keckley says the trustees "ratcheted back" their optimism for economic growth in the coming months and years when compared with other federal reports on the status of Medicare.

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