The Obama administration will offer an update this week on the state of the nation's entitlement programs. Policymakers are keeping their eye on the 2016 Social Security and Medicare trustees' report expected to be unveiled Wednesday to see if the White House will stand by its projection that Medicare will be solvent until 2030. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the Medicare trust fund will dry up in 2026, causing the program to run a deficit.
Also of interest is whether trustees will call for the creation of an Independent Payment Advisory Board called for in the Affordable Care Act to rein in Medicare costs if they grew faster than a set rate. But the board, called a death panel by ACA opponents, has not yet been created. There hasn't been the need and, some say, the willingness to expend the political capital.
Being that it's an election year, “The process could be disrupted as the new administration takes office,” said James Scott, CEO of Applied Policy, a reimbursement consulting firm.
HHS has taken its own steps to curb costs through various value-based and bundled-payment models.
The administration didn't weigh those initiatives last year in its projections. “We don't feel like we're far enough along to include it,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said then.
Experts say the programs probably haven't helped much. Robert Moffit, a senior fellow at the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, noted that many Medicare accountable care organizations have not performed well enough to earn bonuses for achieving savings.
“Whether any of these initiatives will produce any type of sea change in healthcare spending is quite unlikely,” he said.