The New York Times Editorial Board published a shocking piece this week in support of Medicare efficiency proposals in President Trump’s proposed 2020 budget, calling out unfair attacks by Democrats claiming that these changes would hurt seniors.
Medicare, the national program providing health insurance to American seniors and younger adults with disabilities, is the second largest mandatory spending item after Social Security. The Trump Administration’s budget proposal for 2020 would make prudent changes to reduce Medicare spending by $600 billion over the next decade—without adversely affecting the health care received by Medicare beneficiaries.
The NYT Editorial Board writes:
“…some cuts to Medicare make sense. Several sought by Mr. Trump closely resemble cuts that had been proposed by President Barack Obama. And the indiscriminate attacks by Senate Democrats are a reminder of how hard it has become for Congress to perform even the most basic kinds of prudent housekeeping in the public interest.”
The proposed budget includes practical changes to the Medicare program to make sure that taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely. For example, under the current budget, the government pays higher fees to doctor’s offices that happen to be owned by hospitals for the care they provide to Medicare beneficiaries. This, as the NYT Editorial Board points out, serves “no obvious purpose,” and only drives up federal spending. The largest chunk of the Medicare “cuts” in the Trump budget would come from eliminating these bonus payments to hospital-owned doctor’s offices and making payments site neutral.
The Editorial Board continues:
“But Democrats are not debating the details. Instead, a proposal to improve the efficiency of health care spending is being treated as an attack on the availability of health care. . . . Both parties have fallen into the unfortunate habit of characterizing every proposal to reduce Medicare spending as an attack on the program’s beneficiaries. In fact, careful stewardship of spending is necessary to ensure the program can help as many people as possible.”
In order to ensure the sustainability of Medicare, the federal government will need to take a hard look at cost growth in the program. The program currently comprises 15 percent of the total federal budget and is projected to rise to 18 percent by 2028. Medicare serves about 60 million Americans today, but as more and more Baby Boomers age into the program, that number is expected to rise to 80 million by 2030.
The Trump Administration is right to put forth proposals that get rid of wasteful spending of taxpayer money in Medicare. And the NYT Editorial Board—which is typically averse to praising any conservative proposals—should be applauded for its honest assessment of President Trump’s proposed budget and its effect on American seniors.