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Friday, May 13, 2011

Social Security, Medicare, and the Future

The aging of the Baby Boom presents enormous challenges for the future of social security, Medicare, and the federal budget. Frederick R. Lynch deals with this topic in his new book, One Nation Under AARP: the Fight over Medicare, Social Security, and America's Future

Noam Levey reports on a new development, in The Los Angeles Times:
Highlighting the financial peril confronting Medicare, the federal government predicted Friday that the program's largest trust fund would run out of money in 2024, five years earlier than projected last year.

Medicare's deteriorating condition contrasts with Social Security, whose funds will not be exhausted until 2036, according to an annual report by trustees who oversee the two mammoth entitlement programs.The faltering Medicare finances — caused in part by the sluggish economy — are expected to intensify pressure on both parties in Washington to move forcefully to shore up the health plan that covers care for more than 47 million elderly and disabled Americans.

"Americans are living longer, and healthcare costs are continuing to rise. And if we do not do more to contain the rate of growth in healthcare costs, then our commitments will become unsustainable," said Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, chairman of the board of trustees.

Democrats and Republicans, who over the last several decades have repeatedly worked out ways to preserve Medicare and Social Security, are now sparring anew over how best to tackle rising costs.
See number of workers per beneficiary: