As part of the extravagant $3.5 trillion infrastructure package, Democrats are now pushing to expand the financially-troubled Medicare program by adding dental, vision, and hearing services. Before considering such a measure, it sure would be nice for Congress to have an up to date view of Medicare’s finances, especially to see how the pandemic affected the program. Unfortunately, the annual Trustees report is more than three months overdue.
By law, the Trustees of Social Security and Medicare are supposed to deliver a report about the programs’ finances by April 1st. Though rarely on time — the last year the deadline was met was 2008 — this report has already surpassed the dates that the reports were delivered during the Trump administration, though there were several years under the Obama administration when the reports were even later. Motley Fool notes:
- Reports during President Obama’s term got submitted on May 12, Aug. 9, May 13, April 25, May 31, July 28, July 22, and June 22.
- The track record during President Trump’s administration was equally consistent, with late-filed reports on July 13, June 5, and April 22 twice in a row.
Just last week, Biden fired the Trump era commissioner of Social Security, Andrew Saul, after he refused to resign, so it is unclear to what extent that could impact the timing of the reports.
This year’s reports are heavily anticipated because everybody is eager to see how the trustees believe that the pandemic disrupted the programs. But it will be even more relevant now that Democrats have announced plans to expand Medicare. In last year’s report, the trustees revealed that the core hospital insurance program was running a deficit every year in the future, and that the trust fund would be depleted by 2025 — after which point tax increase would be required to avoid automatic benefit cuts.