Report may give Bush's proposed Medicare cuts momentum

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An increase in volume and intensity of services is leading the Medicare trust fund faster toward bankruptcy than ever before, and that could put new pressure on providers. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released the 2006 Medicare Trustees Report this week, which predicted insolvency would occur in 12 years if changes were not made.



That prediction is two years earlier than one issued by the trustees just last year. In this year's report, trustees called on leaders to "reduce Medicare spending growth." They also noted that the aging baby boomer generation is a leading contributor to strain on the Medicare fund. The trustees' report specifically states that one of the key factors accelerating the descent toward insolvency is "greater growth in utilization than expected in 2005 for skilled nursing facility services."

President Bush's proposed fiscal 2007 budget calls for significant reigning in of both Medicare and Medicaid spending, something long-term care operators dread. Members of Congress have thus far challenged Bush's spending proposals.

The trustees' report can be seen at www.cms.hhs.gov/ReportsTrustFunds/downloads/tr2006.pdf.