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Health Law Extends Medicare Solvency to 2029, Trustees Say

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, August 5, 2010

However, the trustees said that actual Part B costs are likely to exceed current projections because Congress will continue to override Medicare payments cuts to physicians. Under the "sustainable growth rate" formula, physician payment rates would have to be reduced by about 23% on Dec. 1, 2010, a further 6.5% on Jan. 1, 2011, and 2.9% on Jan. 1, 2012.

The Medicare Part D prescription drug program is also balanced because of annual updating of enrollee premiums and federal payment rates.

The Medicare trust fund has not met the Trustees' formal test of short-range financial adequacy since 2003. In addition, the HI long-range actuarial deficit has been reduced to .66% of taxable payroll, which is one-sixth of its projected amount prior to the new health reform law, the report stated.

The Medicare Trustees are: Treasury Secretary and Managing Trustee Timothy F. Geithner; Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis; and Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue. Two public representatives to the board who are appointed by the president are vacant and the president's nominees await Senate confirmation. CMS Administrator Donald M. Berwick, MD, is the secretary of the board.

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