Medicare and Social Security trustees forecasts $50 trillion gap

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The gap between what Medicare and Social Security programs promise to consumers and the revenues to pay for them could eventually be more than $50 trillion, according to an annual report to be released Tuesday by the programs' trustees. The trustees are estimating the costs and revenues projected into eternity, instead of the usual 75-year outlook.

The trustees' report includes the federal government's first effort to estimate the long-term cost of the new Medicare law. The projections are based Centers for Medicare & Medicaid chief actuary Richard Foster's calculations. He estimated the cost of the Medicare reform law to be $534 billion over 10 years. The 75-year cost is estimated to be $7 trillion.

An anonymous official who has seen the trustees' forecast said the cost of the new Medicare legislation, which includes a prescription drug benefit, would eventually reach more than $10 trillion, according to the New York Times.

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