Last night the American people listened to a lengthy list of promises on how to expand the government’s role in health care. No time was devoted to explaining how our country could possibly pay for it. This is especially troubling considering our current obligations to pay for the health care of seniors. Medicare already has unfunded costs of $34 trillion over the next 75 years (in net present value terms) and Former Congressional Budget Office (CBO) staffers Joseph R. Antos and Tracy Foertsch, predict that honest funding of the already promised Medicare benefits would require the current Medicare payroll tax to increase from today’s 2.9 percent to 13.4 percent.
Fortunately Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) reminds us today, in The Washington Times, that a little-know provision of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 requires Congress to address the problem when the Medicare Trustees certify that more than 45 percent of the total Medicare outlays are set to come from general revenue funding. The trustees recently issued that warning. Congress must now respond to White House proposals to slow the growth of Medicare by nearly $178 billion over the next five years. According to Hensarling the upcoming debate “provides Congress with a golden opportunity to conduct a thorough, stem-to-stern review of the way seniors receive health care.“