Is Trump Cutting Medicare
Many people throughout the United States are beginning to wonder if President Trump plans on cutting the Medicare program. Medicare is a federal health program that was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965.
The program provides health care benefits to seniors, those who are disabled, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease. Medicare has seen many changes in the years since the enactment of this program. From eligibility to benefits, plenty of these changes helped to expand the health program, rather than cut it.
Last Wednesday, while in Davos, Switzerland, President Trump made suggestions that should he win a second term, he would think about cuts to programs such as Medicare to help in reducing the federal deficit.
Last week, the Treasury Department indicated that in 2019 the federal budget deficit exceeded $1 trillion. We have not seen the national debt rise that high since 2012.
When asked in a recent interview with CNBC if cuts to entitlements would show up on his plate, Mr. Trump responded, “At some point, they will be,” Mr. Trump said, before pointing to United States economic growth. “At the right time, we will take a look at that.“
Recovering Medicare Overpayments
Following President Trump’s remarks regarding reviewing possible cuts, a spokesman for the White House stated the President isn’t promoting benefit cuts. However, the administration will try to eliminate things like “fraud and waste” within the programs.
“President Trump is keeping his commitment to the most vulnerable Americans, especially those who depend on Medicare and Social Security,” the statement said. “His budgets have proposed more savings to mandatory programs than any President in history, including lowering drug costs, eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse, and getting people off welfare and back to work.”
Eliminating overpayments needs to be the first thing; before cutting spending, we need to stop waste. Let’s talk about the $10 billion in overpayments from Social Security.
Including six million active numbers that belong to people over the age of 112, but only 40 people in the world are over the age of 112. Then, $1 Billion in benefits was sent to dead people; either in the form of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security Payments, and the Federal Retirement Pensions.
With 1.2 Trillion in overpayments since 2004, it’s no wonder America is in debt, there is clearly a problem. Also, the $30 billion in overcharges for Medicare Advantage plans isn’t something to forget about either.
CMS has the goal to recover $1 billion from overpaid health insurers in 2020. But, that’s only a fraction of the lost amount. We would love to see Trump recover Medicare overpayments instead of making cuts to the actual programs. Also, there needs to be a more effective way to manage our taxpayer funds.
America shouldn’t need audits to show overpayment, the government should be able to get it right the first time.
Reclassifying Spending Isn’t the Same as Cutting Medicare Spending
Many can remember during the campaigns in 2016, Mr. Trump explained that he would not have to touch Social Security since his plan on bolstering economic growth would take charge of the program’s long-term issues.
Social security and Medicare are the most popular federal programs throughout party lines. There’s no doubt that anything and everything Medicare and Social Security will prove to be top issues in the 2020 election between Republicans and Democrats alike.
Medicare and Social Security programs are currently a major talking point amongst Democrats, specifically in the primary.
While there is a lot of media suggesting that Trump is cutting Medicare spending, it’s important to realize the difference between budget cuts and reclassifications.
For example, the Graduate Medical Education payments come out of the Medicare budget currently. If we reclassify that spending, it’s no longer a Medicare expense.
Further, policies could go into effect that reduces the cost of care, similar to Obama’s proposals. The policy would lower premiums, slow overall healthcare cost growth, and reduce Medicare spending.
Equalizing Medicare Reimbursement rates no mater the site of service is another important change that could be beneficial. Further, lowering drug prices is something we need to address as a country.
Trump and The National Committee to Preserve Social Security
We can all admit that we’re wondering how long Social Security will last. Throughout the 80s and 90s, Biden, along with other dominant Democrats, discussed reducing the federal deficit by negotiating with Republicans and slowing Social Security’s growth or potentially raising Americans’ retirement age. Mr. Trump has not given any more details regarding potential cuts.
Last Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer exclaimed that he would not consider entitlement cuts. “The President said in an interview yesterday at Davos that he’ll take a look at cutting Social Security and other entitlements after the 2020 election and that it is he said, the easiest of all things,” said Schumer. “The President promised that unlike other Republicans, he wouldn’t touch Social Security and Medicare. He’s already broken that promise and gone after Medicare. Now, it looks like Social Security is in the President’s crosshairs as well.”
Schumer continued to explain, “Even as this important trial continues, Americans should hear that the President is casually talking about cutting their Social Security at a Swiss ski resort with the global financial elite. When Trump announced his run for President in 2015, he promised to save Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security without cuts. Have to do it. Get rid of the fraud. Get rid of the waste and abuse, but save it.”
Before cuts are made to Social Security, it’s likely the age of eligibility will increase or payroll taxes will rise.
Following the Democratic replies to his comments at Davos, Mr. Trump reemphasized his claim that he would “save” Social Security. In a tweet, he responded with, “Democrats are going to destroy your Social Security. I have left it alone, as promised, and will save it!” Further, Trump did make an executive order to protect and improve Medicare.
How Can Trump Cut Medicare Spending Without Cutting Benefits?
When the average American citizen thinks of cuts to Medicare, their heads tend to go straight to their benefits, seeing an effect, such as coverage loss or reduction. However, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Medicare policy director Tricia Neuman, “This issue has been around for decades. It’s a proposed reduction relative to the baseline. A cut sounds worse than a reduction, but the effect is the same. If these proposals were adopted, there would be less money paid to providers for specific Medicare services than there would have been.”
The majority of the changes would target hospital payments, as well as payments to other health care providers – these changes may not even directly impact Medicare recipients.
Tricia Neuman and other analysts think there’s wiggle room in spending less money while not hurting Medicare beneficiaries along the way. Matthew Fiedler of the Brookings Institution Center for Health Policy says, “In general, these proposals are in areas where there is evidence, we pay providers too much. One big proposal is to make payments site neutral. Currently, we pay more for the same service in a hospital rather than in a doctor’s office, even when there’s no evidence the site of service makes a difference.”
Further, about 23% of the time patients overpay for their prescriptions. Then hospitals charge patients more than double the cost for prescriptions, one company found some hospitals were marking the drugs up by 200% or more.
Lowering the cost of medications needs to be at the top of the agenda, right next to reducing fraud, waste, and abuse.
The Impact of the 2020 Election
While the federal deficit is high, are cuts to such popular programs the way to go? Especially with a looming election overhead? Are expansions to these critical programs the answer to gaining retirees’ trust, and vote?
So many seniors on Social Security and Medicare have gone through many struggles with saving for retirement. Making changes to the federal programs could potentially prolong these struggles for Americans.
After working their entire adult life, postponing the golden years even longer than one would hope, could create rifts when it’s time to step up to the ballot box in November. Nobody want’s to tell their kids working until 70 is necessary, at what point do Americans get to reap the benefits of all the hard work they do?
Why are we paying more in taxes for Social Security than we can ever get back? These are some serious questions that need answers, hopefully, one of the presidential candidates will deliver a proper reform we can all get behind.