This morning, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled their proposal to significantly change Medicare, one of the largest areas of the budget and one of the biggest drivers of our long-term debt. Rep. Ryan, who unveiled his own Medicare plan earlier this year, has joined with Sen. Wyden to craft a plan that would significantly improve the long-term fiscal imbalance. These lawmakers deserve credit for having the courage to propose specific reforms to help control rising debt levels.
With so many provisions set to expire at the end of the year, CRFB has released a new paper that details what lawmakers have to extend and how they can do it in a fiscally responsible way.
With the deadline for the Super Committee to come to an agreement nearly here, the Moment of Truth Project, a project of CRFB, has released two new policy papers diving deeper into the Fiscal Commission's recommendations on how to reform federal retirement programs and Medicare cost-sharing rules. These areas of the budget can be a critical element in forging a bipartisan deal that requires shared sacrifice from everyone.
In his testimony to the Super Committee, Fiscal Commission co-chair Erskine Bowles floated a compromise plan which would, among other things, reduce health spending by $600 billion -- more than $100 billion more than the Fiscal Commission did.
Last week the federal government announced that 2012 Medicare premiums will increase for most participants by $3.50 per month from $96.40, making 2012 premiums $99.90 a month. The percent increase is roughly equivalent to the 3.6% COLA increase for Social Security announced recently, but much less than the $39 per month amount of the Social Security COLA.
As is well-known by now, the growth in entitlement programs fueled by rising health care costs and an aging population threatens an ever-increasing national debt. Our largest mandatory spending programs occupy nearly one-third of the federal budget and, in the coming years, payments out of these programs will continue to outpace the rate of growth in the overall economy. As such, serious entitlement reforms will have to play a role in a comprehensive approach to long-term debt reduction, along with other areas of the budget, in order to get our fiscal house in order.
The CLASS Act, the new long-term care program enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, has been dropped, as the Obama Administration has struggled to implement the program in an actuarially sound manner.
On Wednesday, CRFB President Maya MacGuineas and CRFB board member Douglas Holtz-Eakin testified in front of the Senate Special Committee on Aging on Medicare reform. The hearing focused on the future of the vital program and ways it can be reformed to strengthen its finances going forward. The hearing examined a variety of possible reforms and what their effect would be, both fiscally and from a programmatic standpoint.
Two more recent recommendations have been added to our Super Committee submissions tracker, dealing with defense and health care.
CRFB President Maya MacGuineas and former CBO director and current CRFB board member Douglas Holtz-Eakin will be testifying in front the Senate Special Committee on Aging at a hearing entitled "A Time for Solutions: Finding Consensus in the Medicare Reform Debate."