Medicare Trustee Confirms: Absent Action, Program "As We Know It" Ends in 2024

Posted: Jun 22, 2011 2:42 PM

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) executed a deft cross-examination of Medicare trustee Dr. Charles Blahous at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing earlier today. Watch as Roskam drills down on the question of what set of circumstances truly "ends Medicare as we know it."  Democrats have endlessly and disingenuously recited the talking point that the House-passed Ryan budget would "kill" the program.  Republicans counter with the argument that the inertia of demography and basic arithmatic are the real culprits, and that their proposed reforms are imperative to salvage the social safety net.  Who is telling the more complete truth?  A revealing exchange:

Roskam: In fact, Medicare as we know it will end in 2024, absent some change in policy, or some change in moving forward.  That's right, isn't it?

Blahous: Yes.

This is precisely the sort of factual message that conservatives must emphasize ad nauseum to counteract Democrats' cynical 'Mediscare' ploys.  Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio forged an effective template for the battle ahead.  Peter Roskam has now contributed an indispensable piece of official, easily-understood evidence.  Columnist and Hoover Institute fellow Deroy Murdock also suggests a few additional wrinkles for the GOP playbook:

Jim Guirard, long-time chief of staff to the late Sen. Russell Long (D., La.), runs the TrueSpeak Institute ( He advises the GOP to market “MediChoice.” Unlike the head-scratching that “premium support” inspires, MediChoice signals that Republicans would give seniors choice in medical coverage. Just as the GI Bill helps veterans pay tuition at schools that match their interests, MediChoice would help future Medicare recipients (now 54 or younger) buy coverage that suits their circumstances.

Guirard urges Republicans to call today’s Medicare system “MediCrash.” The Democrats’ policy — snatching $520 billion from Medicare to fund Obamacare and pretending that the program is the platonic form of fiscal health — invites financial catastrophe. By Sept. 30, 2020, the Congressional Budget Office forecasts, Medicare’s Trust Fund will be “exhausted.” Republicans should reiterate that Democrats — not the greedy, granny-killing GOP — perpetrated a half-trillion-dollar heist against Medicare’s coffers to underwrite Obamacare. Democrats pitifully refuse to do anything to prevent this calamity. What will their negligence yield in just over nine years? The CBO predicts: MediCrash.

If only there were a helpful illustration of Democrats' "pitiful refusal" to lift a finger to avert Medicrash.  Ah, yes:  Today marks the 784th consecutive day that Senate Democrats have failed to even introduce a budget blueprint.  I denounced this apparent allergy to responsibility in my Right Online speech last weekend.