Trustees Report Press Conference

By:  Kathleen Sebelius
Date: May 31, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

Thank you, Secretary Lew.

Today's Trustees Report confirms that the Affordable Care Act is continuing to strengthen Medicare and ensure its solvency for future generations.

For nearly half a century, Americans have looked to Medicare as a sacred trust--a guarantee that no one will have to sell their house or go bankrupt in old age because of a hospital bill. And it is our duty to keep Medicare strong and sustainable, so that our children can look forward to the same security when it comes time for them to retire.

Back in 2009, that mission was in doubt. Medicare spending was rising rapidly, and the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund was projected to be insolvent in just eight years.

With the health care law, our goal was to put Medicare on more stable footing, not by cutting benefits, but by putting reforms in place to ensure that Medicare dollars were spent more wisely. And the past few years have borne out that promise.

Last year, the Trustees Report projected that the life of the Trust Fund had been extended until 2024. And today, we're pleased to announce that we've extended the life of the Trust Fund two more years, to 2026.

Just as important as extending the solvency of Medicare is the way in which we're doing it.

The Affordable Care Act has helped put Medicare on more stable ground without eliminating a single guaranteed benefit. Instead, it has successfully lowered costs thanks to a wide range of reforms designed to reduce costly medical errors, decrease the number of unnecessary hospital readmissions, eliminate excess payments to Medicare Advantage plans, and crack down on fraud and abuse.

Thanks in part to these reforms, Medicare spending per beneficiary has grown at the historically low rate of 1.2% a year between 2010 and 2012. And it's projected to remain lower than the rate of economic growth over the next decade.

This is not only putting Medicare on stronger footing for the future. It's also benefitting seniors right now. Preliminary estimates in today's Trustees Report project that 2014 Part B premiums will not increase a dime from their 2013 levels.

The numbers in today's report are especially encouraging because we know that, since many Medicare beneficiaries are on a fixed income, Medicare costs are less likely than private insurance costs to be affected by fluctuations in the economy. That means that when Medicare spending slows, it's an especially good sign that real progress is being made.

Still, we recognize that more work remains to be done. Medicare continues to face considerable challenges--including an aging population. So we must continue to build on the progress we've made in the last few years.

That's why the President's 2014 budget lays out an additional $371 billion in savings to Medicare over the next decade. If those proposals are enacted by Congress, they will put Medicare on even sounder footing for our children.

Today's Trustees Report is the latest demonstration that with smart reforms, we can secure Medicare for the future without slashing benefits. Going forward, we must keep working to strengthen Medicare for beneficiaries today and for future generations.