Medicare Trustees report shows the harmful consequences of Republican policies
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This year’s Medicare Trustees report, released last week, confirms what many of us had predicted – the Republican tax cut, efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act, and other actions taken by the Trump administration have caused a deterioration of Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund. It is now scheduled to be unable to pay full benefits in 2026 – three years earlier than the projection made just one year ago.

As the administration renews its attack on the Affordable Care Act by refusing to defend protections for consumers with preexisting condition in court, the report’s findings should serve as a reminder of the sweeping, harmful consequences of the Republican approach to health care.

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The most devastating conclusion of the Trustees is that the Republican tax plan – which gives those earning over $1 million a year an average tax cut of over $69,000 – directly threatens the future of Medicare. According to the report, the tax law will reduce revenues that would have helped finance health benefits for tens of millions of American seniors enrolled in Medicare Part A. The report also concludes that the number of uninsured Americans will spike as a result of repeal of the ACA’s individual mandate. This will force Medicare to expend billions in additional payments to hospitals that provide uncompensated care at the expense of the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund.

The Trustees also found that recent actions by the Trump administration to increase payments to private Medicare Advantage plans are another factor in the worsened financial status of the Trust Fund.

Additionally, the report highlights the urgent need to rein in growth in spending on prescription drugs, which continues to far exceed inflation. The Trustees show that rising drug costs are a substantial contributor to spending growth in Part B and Part D, adding to the federal deficit while also increasing seniors’ premiums. Despite rhetoric and empty promises, the administration continues to neglect this issue, while the Republican majority in Congress rejects commonsense efforts to protect Medicare from unreasonable price increases, including allowing the Medicare program to directly negotiate for lower drug prices.

Although this is discouraging news, it is crucial to recognize that relatively straightforward and commonsense reforms can safeguard Medicare’s financial future. Radical policy changes – such as Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTrump vows to stand with House GOP '1,000 percent' on immigration Heckler yells ‘Mr. President, f--- you’ as Trump arrives at Capitol Hoyer: GOP centrists 'sold out' Dreamers MORE’s (R-Wis.) proposal to end Medicare as we know it by instituting a voucher scheme – are dangerously ideological and counterproductive. Instead, what is needed is a return to responsible stewardship and an immediate reversal of recent misguided tax and health policies.

The Affordable Care Act showed us that Medicare can be strengthened without cutting benefits – through commonsense efforts to increase revenues and reduce overpayments, while also expanding innovative payment models that reward value in care, rather than volume. In fact, thanks to the changes made by the ACA, the solvency of the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund was extended by more than a decade, while seniors’ benefits were strengthened, not cut.

Republicans would be wise to recognize that the path forward on Medicare will resemble this approach, rather than continuing the detrimental policies of the majority and the Trump administration.

Levin is ranking member of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee.