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Warning: Don’t Repeal the Medicare Warning Trigger


A colleague of mine who has actually read the House health-care bill points out that section 1721 (a) of the bill would repeal the Medicare warning trigger of Medicare Modernization Act. This provision requires the HHS Secretary to propose adjustments to fix this problem when two consecutive Medicare Trustee Reports indicate that general revenue is funding more than 45% of total Medicare outlays — i.e., the so-called trust funds are not covering enough of Medicare’s costs. It would be a shame if this provision went away. When I served at HHS, Secretary Leavitt took this provision seriously, and proposed significant Medicare funding adjustments to get us on more certain footing. Unfortunately, Congress was less interested in making such changes, and the situation continued to worsen. Taking this provision away gives the HHS Secretary one less tool for trying to fix the problem of Medicare’s impending bankruptcy.

Here’s the section:


Subtitle A of title VIII of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (Public Law 108–173) is repealed and the provisions of law amended by such subtitle are restored as if such subtitle had never been enacted.

 — Tevi Troy, deputy secretary of health and human services from 2007 to 2009, is a visiting senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.


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