Yesterday, Zeke Emanuel advanced an interesting proposal for Social Security and Medicare in a blog at The New York Times: varying the retirement ages for lifetime earnings. This policy is a response to a common criticism of raising the retirement ages that increases in life expectancy over time have been uneven across income groups. Emanuel's idea would work as follows:
Donald Marron, who recently wrote a blog post on how budget limits are treated in Congressional rules, wrote a piece today detailing how Medicare Part A rules could be altered so that savings in Part A could not be used to both reduce the deficit and extend the life of the Hospital Insurance (HI) trust fund. Here's his take:
Over at Wonkblog, Sarah Kliff points out that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may contain a new "doc fix" -- only this time in Medicaid. The current "doc fix" in Medicare cancels out huge scheduled physician payment cuts as required under law by the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. Since it is very expensive to override the SGR permanently (about $300 billion over ten years), Congress usually just enacts temporary extensions.
Last month, Social Security and Medicare Trustee Chuck Blahous sparked a controversy by saying that the Affordable Care Act would add to the deficit, arguing that the law was double counting savings from Medicare Part A because Part A is already restrained by a trust fund that is scheduled to expire this decade. Thus, the Medicare savings from the law would only be used to extend the life of the trust fund.
While we have already broken down the Social Security Trustees report, the Trustees have also produced a report for Medicare. Considering that health care spending is central to our fiscal challenges and Medicare is the largest program in that category, understanding the report's findings is critical.
The Social Security and Medicare Trustees have signed off on their respective reports on the financial projections for the two programs, though we continue to wait for the Social Security report to be posted reports online.