Medicare is in dire need of reform. This week’s chart illustrates why the entitlement program is the largest driver of long-term runaway deficits. With the country’s population aging and increasingly dependent on health care, Medicare’s cost to taxpayers is projected to rise from $522.8 billion in 2010 to $932 billion in 2020.
The Heritage Foundation has long championed reforms for Medicare, most recently as part of Saving the American Dream. Heritage’s Bob Moffit recently outlined a two-stage approach to reform. The first step is saving the current program, then moving to premium support for Medicare, which is a variant of the defined-contribution system.
The issue is also getting more attention on Capitol Hill. Just this month Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a bipartisan framework for structural Medicare reform. Their plan “would establish a premium-support system of financing for Medicare,” wrote Moffit and Rea Hederman on The Foundry. “This policy is central to the transformation of Medicare into a consumer-based system relying on competition rather than bureaucratic fiat.”
Ryan, of course, already tried to transform Medicare earlier this year as part of his budget proposal. It created such an uproar among Democrats that their assertions were dubbed the “Lie of the Year” by Politifact and one of the “biggest Pinocchios of 2011” by fact checker Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post.
There isn’t anything false or misleading about Heritage’s chart. The numbers come directly from the Congressional Budget Office. And unless something is done, Medicare will be the biggest driver of future deficits.