At the time, the Chicago Tribune warned its readers: “Medicare trustees reported Wednesday that the program's financial outlook is getting worse, touching off a new round of debate over the future of the federal health insurance system for the elderly and disabled. According to the trustees, who give the program a fiscal checkup every year, the fund that pays Medicare hospital bills dipped into the red last year and will go broke in early 2001. That's a year earlier than they predicted in 1995.”
Sound familiar? How about these warnings:
Chicago Tribune July 2, 1969: “The Medicare hospital trust fund faces bankruptcy by 1976 and taxes must either be raised or benefits reduced the senate finance committee was told today.”
Washington Post, April 1, 1986: “The Medicare hospital insurance program faces bankruptcy by 1996, two years earlier than projected last year.”
New York Times, January 20, 1985: In the last few years, when it appeared that the Medicare trust fund would run out of money in 1987-89... But the need seemed less urgent after the Congressional Budget Office issued new estimates last September indicating that the Medicare trust fund would not go bankrupt until 1994.
(Hat tip to Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn who culled eighteen stories from the Tribune, the Washington Post and the New York Times over a period of four decades, each predicting that the Medicare Hospital Insurance Fund was teetering on the brink of disaster.)
But of course Medicare didn’t “run out of money” in 1994, and it won’t go belly-up now, in large part thanks to health care reform legislation. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Affordable Care Act (ACA) raises and saves over $950 billion. (Below, I spell out how the legislation generates those dollars). In the process, as the Medicare Trustees’ Report 2011 points out, the ACA reduces Medicare spending “by 25 percent”—without cutting health benefits, or shifting costs to seniors.
Our thanks to Digby for pointing us to the above in her article this afternoon describing today's as usual right-leaning Meet the Press roundtable as "vapid" and "braindead" featuring just one of six panelists who "might not be called [conservative]," in a discussion "about the immediate deficit catastrophe" which, she believes, would likely cause "all elderly people [to be] extremely worried that they will be barred from going to the hospital next week because Medicare has gone belly up."
She goes on to quote samples of the "verbal compost" of today's roundtable discussion on NBC, adding "I don't think I've ever had the misfortune to see a bigger load of pompous Villager pap and GOP propaganda in one place."
If it's Sunday...