A bit of background here: Obama’s Affordable Care Act Medicare cuts reduce how much the program pays hospitals, private insurers and other providers. The $716 billion in savings helped free up funds to pay for other health programs, like the expansion of insurance to 32 million Americans.
That was the primary purpose, at least. There was also a really important side effect: The health care law extended the solvency of Medicare’s Trust Fund. If the program pays hospitals less, each dollar stretches a little bit further. Earlier this year, the independent Medicare Board of Trustees estimated that with these cuts the trust fund would remain solvent through 2024.
Without those cuts, however, the budget gets a little tighter. Medicare keeps paying providers at the same rates it does now, but each dollar buys less. And that means, according to these trustees, that the trust fund would no longer be able to cover Medicare’s costs as soon as 2016.
“Simply undoing the cuts would restore higher payments to those service providers,” Alonso-Zalidvar writes. “And that would cause Medicare to spend money faster.”