Sebelius defends Medicare solvency

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a Medicare trustee, took to the White House blog Friday to assuage concerns about the program's solvency after a new report found that it would run out of money to pay for seniors' hospital care in 2024.

Medicare and Social Security, Sebelius wrote, "are strong" but "there is far more work to be done." She called on Democrats and Republicans to "continue to work together to address the long-term solvency of the programs so that we keep the promise of Medicare and Social Security to future generations of Americans."

The trustees' report found that the poor economy has shortened the life span of the Medicare trust fund by five years. Without the healthcare reform law, the report says, the trust fund would go broke eight years sooner, in 2016.

Sebelius used the blog to make the case for some of the proposals President Obama outlined in his deficit reduction speech last month. These include having Medicare negotiate prescription drug prices and strengthening a payment board that will recommend cuts to provider rates if they grow too fast.

"The right way to reform Medicare is to improve it so people get better care at a lower cost," she wrote. "And the fiscal framework the President proposed just three weeks ago takes significant steps to extend the solvency of the program, while strengthening Medicare for future generations."

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