When Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) put forth his budget plan in 2011, it included a provision to make Medicare sustainable into the future, but Democrats dishonestly pretended Ryan was setting out to destroy Medicare rather than save it. You may remember the Democrat ad that showed Ryan pushing a wheelchaired grandmother over a cliff. The Democrats were so dishonest about Ryan's proposal that Factcheck.Org deemed the Democrat lie one of the worst politiical deceptions of 2011 in it's Whopper's Of 2011 list.
To those dedicated to the truth rather than deception, it is obvious the only thing that will ultimately destroy Medicare is to leave it unsustainable, as it is now. The unfunded Medicare liability stands at over $81.755 TRILLION dollars. We don't have to come up with all that dough immediately, of course, but we do need to start addressing the problem sooner rather than later, or we'll be in a world of hurt. As things stand now, the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will become insolvent in 2024.
One mechanism to help address the Medicare liability is already encoded into law. It's known as the "Medicare Trigger". When the Medicare Trustees determine Medicare faces a significant revenue shortfall, the "Trigger" is pulled, and the law requires the President to fast track a process to address the revenue shortage. The President has 15 days to put forth a solution.
For the fifth year in a row, the Medicare Trustees have pulled the Medicare Trigger, and for the fourth year in a row, President Obama has violated the law by ignoring it. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Rep. Ryan sent Obama the following letter urging him to follow the law:
March 1, 2012
President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Following last year’s Medicare Trustees’ report, we wrote to you expressing our concern about the impending insolvency of the program’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund. We also asked that, in accordance with current-law requirements, your Administration submit to Congress a proposal to address the Medicare funding warning issued in last year’s Trustees’ report. To date, we have received neither a response nor solution.
The law requires you to submit a legislative proposal to Congress following a warning by the Medicare Trustees triggered by a determination in two consecutive years that general revenues will account for more than 45 percent of Medicare’s outlays for the current fiscal year or any of the next six fiscal years. Specifically, Section 1105 of Title 31 of the U.S. Code requires:
If there is a Medicare funding warning under section 801(a)(2) of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 made in a year, the President shall submit to Congress, within the 15-day period beginning on the date of the budget submission to Congress under subsection (a) for the succeeding year, proposed legislation to respond to such warning.
Last year marked the sixth consecutive finding of excessive general-revenue funding and the fifth consecutive funding warning. During recent testimony before the House Budget Committee, Medicare’s Chief Actuary suggested that it is likely this year’s Trustees report will issue its seventh consecutive such finding. As if this weren’t a clear enough call to action, your own Secretary of Health and Human Services testified last year before the same committee that “the traditional Medicare Fee-For-Service program is unsustainable.”
Mr. President, the Medicare Trustees, Medicare’s Chief Actuary, and your own Administration have all sounded the alarm about Medicare’s financial distress. Yet, the budget you submitted to Congress this month continues to punt on addressing the foremost fiscal threat to seniors, physicians, and the national balance sheet. Not only does this violate the statutory obligations laid out under current law, but it also threatens the sustainability of health care security for today’s seniors and future Medicare beneficiaries.
You have often asked for Congress to “put politics aside” and solve the pressing issues facing our country. We would ask that you join us in this challenge and put a plan on the table. We look forward to receiving legislation to address the Medicare funding warning in the near future.
Very truly yours,
Senator Jeff Sessions
Representative Paul Ryan
President Obama was required to submit his proposal by last tuesday, but instead he has chosen to violate the law...again...and Medicare remains ever more unsustainable than it was before.
If only we had a media to report these things, perhaps the people would begin to understand what is really going on in this country, and what is really going on with this administration.
You may recall that the so-called supercommittee failed to reach an agreement on $1.2 trillion in spending cuts just before last Thankgiving. That failure set off another Medicare trigger, which required $123 billion (2%) in automatic payment cuts to Medicare providers. Now a group of Democrats are seeking to stop those cuts. In other words, those Democrats are seeking to renege out of the even the backup plan to the deal they agreed to previously. It makes one wonder, why even make a deal with the Democrats in the first place, when they have no intention of keeping their word, and when the Democrat President has no intention of even following the law ? It reminds me of how the Democrats pass Pay-Go legislation every few years and then forget all about it the second the ink dries on the legislation.
And the unsustainability beat goes on.
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