Chairmen Brady, Johnson, Roskam Respond to the 2018 Social Security and Medicare Trustees Reports

June 5, 2018 — Press Releases   

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Board of Trustees for the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds released their annual reports on the financial health of these important programs. This year’s reports found that:

  • The Medicare hospital program will not be able to pay full benefits in 2026.
  • Social Security’s combined Trust Funds will not be able to pay full benefits in 2034, at which point beneficiaries would face a 21 percent across the board benefit cut if action is not taken.
  • The Trustees, for a second year in a row, issued a Medicare funding warning due to general revenue funding expected to exceed 45 percent of total Medicare outlays within 7 years, triggering a requirement for the President to submit to Congress in 2019 legislation to address warning to be considered on an expedited basis.

In response, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) released the following statement:

“The Social Security and Medicare programs provide important retirement, disability and health care benefits for millions of Americans. Ensuring their solvency is of the utmost importance,” said Chairman Brady. “These reports make clear that we need to act to strengthen these important programs. The time is now to come together in a bipartisan manner to address these real challenges. Under the leadership of Chairman Johnson and Chairman Roskam, our Committee will continue our efforts to protect these programs for future generations of Americans.”

Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) added:

Today’s report shows that, for the first time since 1982, Social Security is paying out more in benefits than it receives in total revenue. This is deeply troubling and should serve as a reality check for anyone concerned about the future of this important program,” said Chairman Johnson. “As I’ve long said, Americans deserve a fact-based conversation about how to fix Social Security. Furthermore, a fact-based conversation requires the full scope of information in a timely fashion.

“I find it worrisome that since 2015 the Trustees Reports have been written without Public Trustees, who provide important insight and contributions. And for the past 15 years, 12 of the reports have been late, with little notice or explanation. The lack of Public Trustee participation, coupled with the late delivery, raises questions about the report’s development. That is why, today, I’m asking GAO to bring much-needed transparency to this process. We have to be sure everything is done right – including the Trustees Report – if we want our children and grandchildren to be able to rely on Social Security, just like seniors and individuals with disabilities do today.”

Health Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam (R-IL) added:

“The Medicare Trustees paint an even bleaker picture than last year, pointing to the need for commonsense reforms to ensure this critical safety net program continues to deliver health care to our nation’s seniors and individuals with disabilities,” said Chairman Roskam. “The solutions are not elusive as was demonstrated in part earlier this year when Congress acted on key Medicare reforms contained in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 to improve access and quality in the Medicare program, but more work remains to be done. This warning from the Trustees is a sobering marker of the work ahead to ensure this program is around for our children and grandchildren.”

 

NOTE: At 11am on Thursday, June 7, the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Johnson, will hold a hearing on Examining Social Security’s Solvency Challenge: The Status of Social Security’s Trust Funds to discuss the findings of the Social Security Trustees Report with the Social Security Administration’s Chief Actuary, Steve Goss. To watch the hearing online, click here.

Over the past few years, the Social Security Subcommittee has held a series of hearings examining the Social Security Trustees Report process.  These hearings raised a number of questions about how the annual Social Security and Medicare Trustees Reports are developed and why the reports are consistently delivered after the April 1 statutory deadline.  In light of these questions, the Chairmen of the Social Security and Medicare Subcommittees sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting that GAO examine the operations of the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees, as well as the annual Social Security and Medicare Trustees Reports.

The Social Security and Medicare Trustees are responsible for developing the Social Security and Medicare Trustees Reports, respectively.  These reports provide the Congress and the American people with important information about Social Security’s and Medicare’s finances. By statute, the Social Security Board of Trustees and the two Medicare Boards of Trustees consist of the same six members:  The Secretaries of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services, the Commissioner of Social Security, and two Public Trustees.  The Public Trustees positions were created to represent taxpayer interests regarding the integrity and objectivity of the annual Trustees Reports. However, the Public Trustees positions have been vacant since the completion of the 2015 Trustees Reports.

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