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Medicare Trustees Press Conference

Sylvia Mathews Burwell
July 28, 2014
Washington, DC


Our work in the health care space is focused on access, quality, and affordability. And the last one of those is our focus for today, as we think about the trustees' report.

As we prepare to mark that 49th anniversary [of the signing of Medicare and Medicaid into law] that Secretary Lew just mentioned, we know that Medicare is considerably stronger than it was just four years ago. The life of the Medicare Trust Fund has been extended, cost growth is down, the quality of the care our parents and grandparents are receiving is improving, and it's easier for them to afford their prescriptions and obtain important services like flu shots and diabetes tests.

The report we're releasing today adds to the evidence on affordability.

First, the life of the Medicare Trust Fund has been extended by four years through 2030. Last year's report estimated it would be funded only through 2026. And in 2009, that estimate was for 2017.

Second, the report finds that Medicare spending for beneficiaries is growing slower than the overall economy. Per capita spending grew at an annual rate of 0.8 percent over the last four years, significantly lower than the growth per capita GDP of 3.1 percent.

Finally, I want to highlight the report's finding that the Part B premium growth has slowed dramatically. Our preliminary projections suggest that Part B premiums will be the same in 2015, at $104.90, that they were in 2014 and 2013. That's a growth rate of zero percent.

While we need to continue to focus on the long-term health of these trusts, as the secretary [Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew] mentioned, all of these factors do add up to a stronger Medicare -- one that means we're better positioned to support our parents and grandparents as they age with security and dignity.

Thank you very much.

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Content last reviewed on January 6, 2015