With the Senate’s failure to pass health care legislation in last week’s votes, Congress should turn to a bipartisan approach. This is needed both to fix the serious, short-term problems with health care marketplaces around the country and to propel health care cost-control initiatives over the longer term.
Every year the trustees of Social Security and Medicare issue detailed reports on the financial status of these programs. While the trustees’ reports consistently warn that both programs face serious shortfalls, the urgency of this warning is often undercut by undue attention to the years in which the Social Security trust funds and the Medicare Hospital Insurance (HI) trust fund are projected to become insolvent.
Social Security is the largest program in the federal budget, accounting for almost 24 cents out of every dollar spent by the government in 2016. The program consists of two main components: Old Age and Survivors Insurance, which provides benefits to 49 million retired individuals and their dependents, and their survivors; and Disability Insurance, which pays benefits to 11 million workers with disabilities and their dependents.
Health care programs are the largest and fastest growing in the federal budget. These programs include Medicare (providing health insurance for older Americans), Medicaid (providing health insurance for lower-income Americans), the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and subsidies for individuals to purchase private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Currently they comprise almost 30 cents out of every dollar spent by the federal government.