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Opinion: Defusing the Medicare Time Bomb
Robert E. Moffit, guest columnist
AgeVenture News, www.demko.com, 05-31-05

Medicare Crisis Medicare's trustees say that the program is in the hole by $29.7 trillion. This represents unfunded Medicare benefits promised to current and future retirees. It's no great surprise that members of Congress don't want to discuss whether or how, precisely, they will sock young taxpayers with this big bill.

The latest Medicare trustees' report shows that the longterm cost of Medicare's unfunded promises jumped $2 trillion in just one year. Indeed, the debt for the drug benefit alone jumped from $8.1 trillion to $8.7 trillion. So in just one year, the longterm estimates of the drug entitlement increased a whopping $600 billion. At this rate, even before the benefit is in place, imagine what that number will be next year!

For now, Congress has turned its back on this mounting problem. If worst comes to worst, today's 20-somethings who pay even less attention to entitlement costs than do members of Congress will foot the big bills tomorrow.

More lawmakers need to wake up to the true cost of their irresponsible handiwork. A year's delay could give them the chance to avoid this mess, study the issue calmly, and this time get it right.

Robert E. Moffit is director of the Center for Health Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

See: Medicare Cuts Hurt Senior Access to Health Care

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