The Medicare program is the largest purchaser of health care in the United States, spending more than $700 billion annually. As of February 2021, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that the Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund (one of two funds that pay for parts of the Medicare program) will be insolvent by 2026—meaning it will no longer have sufficient resources to pay for the entire cost of beneficiary health care services. While the HI Trust Fund has long faced a likely shortfall, this is only the second time in its existence that insolvency has been predicted within five years. Additionally, COVID-19 recovery and rebuilding efforts may present opportunities for Congress to reduce Medicare spending while offering more equitable access to services for beneficiaries.
This briefing provided an overview of the Medicare Trust Funds, the nuances of solvency, and the consequences of not resolving funding shortfalls. Panelists explored short- and long-term policy options to address solvency and offer equitable access, as well as the potential impacts on providers, plans, and most importantly, Medicare beneficiaries.
- Jonathan Blum, MPP, Vice President, Federal Policy and Managing Director, Medicare, Health Management Associates
- Adaeze Enekwechi, Ph.D., MPP, Research Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University; Board Member, Alliance for Health Policy
- Cori Uccello, MAAA, FSA, MPP, Senior Health Fellow, American Academy of Actuaries
- Gretchen Jacobson, Ph.D., Vice President, Medicare, The Commonwealth Fund (moderator)
This briefing was made possible with support from the Commonwealth Fund.