NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Two Agencies Agree: Clinton Medicare Plan Irresponsible

March 12, 1999

At a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday, officials of the General Accounting Office and the Congressional Budget Office agreed that President Clinton's proposal to spend $700 billion of the projected budget surplus to help rescue Medicare is irresponsible.

  • The leaders of both offices said it would make more sense to focus on fundamental changes to the program -- so it would require less money or be given a permanent new source of financial help.
  • Comptroller General David M. Walker, who heads the GAO, warned that Clinton's plan "could induce a sense of false complacency."
  • Walker said the White House proposal would improve the "paper solvency" of the Medicare fund that pays hospital bills "without reforms to make the underlying program more sustainable."
  • According to administration forecasts, the surplus funds would keep the program's hospital trust fund solvent until 2020 -- roughly a decade later than when it currently is expected to go broke.

Source: Amy Goldstein, "Clinton's Medicare Plan Called Irresponsible," Washington Post, March 11, 1999.


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