Medicare, Medicaid, & Social Security

Medicare, Medicaid, & Social Security

Research

Robert Emmet Moffit, Neil Meredith | Jan 13, 2015
In a new study for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, scholars Robert Emmet Moffit and Neil R. Meredith demonstrate that while the MSP Program grants new power to the OPM by setting standards designed to limit entry into the program, the law may decrease competition and increase consolidation in the health insurance market. Decreased competition in the health care market may lead to higher prices for consumers of health care and could revive calls for a public health insurance option.
Casey B. Mulligan | Oct 07, 2014
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) imposes several types of incentives that will affect work schedules. The largest of them are (1) an explicit penalty on employers who do not offer coverage to their full-time employees; (2) an implicit tax on full-time employment, stemming from the fact that full-time employees at employers that offer affordable coverage are ineligible to receive subsidies on the law’s new health insurance exchanges; and (3) an implicit tax on earnings, stemming from the provisions of the law that give lower subsidies to those with higher incomes.
Veronique de Rugy, Jason J. Fichtner | Aug 21, 2014
The recent decline in federal deficits should not create a false sense that the national debt is no longer a clear and present threat. While this improvement may be encouraging, it represents only a temporary respite from the government’s growing fiscal imbalances.
Charles Blahous | Jan 14, 2014
According to a new paper published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, the slowdown in health care cost growth is extremely unlikely to solve Medicare’s financing problems. Indeed, such a suggestion primarily reflects an incomplete understanding of how current Medicare cost projections are done.
Laurence Kotlikoff | Dec 12, 2013
Every country faces an intertemporal budget constraint, which requires that its government’s future expenditures, including servicing its outstanding official debt, be covered by its government’s future receipts when measured in present value. The present value difference between a country’s future expenditures and its future receipts is its fiscal gap. The US fiscal gap now stands at $205 trillion. This is 10.3 percent of the estimated present value of all future US GDP. The United States needs to raise taxes, cut spending, or engage in a combination of these policies by an amount equal to 10.3 percent of annual GDP to close its fiscal gap. Closing the gap via raising taxes would require an immediate and permanent 57 percent increase in all federal taxes. Closing the gap via spending cuts (apart from servicing official (debt) would require an immediate and permanent 37 percent reduction in spending. This grave picture of America’s fiscal position effectively constitutes a declaration of bankruptcy.
Charles Blahous | Nov 14, 2013
In a new study published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Charles P. Blahous, a Mercatus senior research fellow and public trustee for Medicare and Social Security, examines the causes of federal deficits by systematically examining the federal budget itself, quantifying all contributions to the deficit regardless of when they were enacted.

Testimony & Comments

Research Summaries & Toolkits

Expert Commentary

e21
Jan 15, 2015

For years Social Security’s trustees (of which I am one) have warned that lawmakers must act to address the troubled finances of the program’s disability insurance (DI) trust fund. Congress has nearly run out of time to do so. Legislation will be required during this Congress or, at the very latest, in a rush at the beginning of the next one, to prevent large sudden benefit cuts. The House of Representatives recently passed a procedural rule to prepare for the coming legislative debate. In this column I explain the issues in play.
Dec 01, 2014

One-third of Americans have nothing saved for retirement, according to a study published in August by the financial data aggregator Bankrate. That grim factoid joined a growing chorus of reports highlighting Americans' dismal savings habits.
e21
Oct 14, 2014

This past week provided an important example of the anticipated effects of the Affordable Care Act coming to pass. Walmart has announced that it will no longer offer health insurance for 26,000 part-time workers, prompting a piece at Vox recognizing that this termination of coverage occurred because “Obamacare changes the calculus on getting coverage at work” and noting that “the loser in the Walmart decision is the federal budget.”…
Aug 25, 2014

The 2014 annual reports released on July 28 from the trustees of Social Security and Medicare (the trustees) show continuing deterioration in Social Security’s finances, primarily because weaker economic growth reduced expected payroll tax revenues. The disability segment of the program — with its own trust fund — is expected to be insolvent in 2016 because benefit payments far exceed past projections, even after adjusting for a fully anticipated aging of the workforce.
By Jason J. Fichtner, Frederick W. Kilbourne |
Aug 11, 2014

The latest Social Security Trustees’ report shows the projected dates of insolvency for the program’s trust funds remain largely unchanged. Regrettably, some misinterpret this as an indication that Social Security doesn’t require immediate reform. Make no mistake: There is a Social Security crisis.
e21
Aug 06, 2014

The Medicare report continues to show that program finances are on an unsustainable long-term trajectory largely due to demographic change, placing rising pressure on the federal budget and requiring legislative corrections, despite favorable adjustments to recent and projected rates of Medicare spending growth.

Charts

This week’s chart presents improper payments made by the thirteen programs that the Office of Management and Budget has labeled “high-error.” The chart ranks transfer programs that allocate at least $750 million in payments from those with the lowest improper payments to those with the highest. The chart also displays the total improper-payment rates as a percentage of total program outlays for each program.

Experts

Charles Blahous is the director of the Spending and Budget Initiative, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and a public trustee for Social Security and Medicare. He specializes in domestic economic policy and retirement security (with an emphasis on Social Security), as well as federal fiscal policy, entitlements, demographic change, and health-care reform.
Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Her primary research interests include the US economy, the federal budget, homeland security, taxation, tax competition, and financial privacy. Her popular weekly charts, published by the Mercatus Center, address economic issues ranging from lessons on creating sustainable economic growth to the implications of government tax and fiscal policies. She has testified numerous times in front of Congress on the effects of fiscal stimulus, debt and deficits, and regulation on the economy.
Jason J. Fichtner is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. His research focuses on Social Security, federal tax policy, federal budget policy, retirement security, and policy proposals to increase saving and investment.
Matthew Mitchell is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, where he is the program director for the Project for the Study of American Capitalism. He is also an adjunct professor of economics at Mason. In his writing and research, he specializes in economic freedom and economic growth, public-choice economics, and the economics of government favoritism toward particular businesses.
David M. Primo is a senior scholar at the Mercatus Center and an associate professor of political science and business administration at the University of Rochester. His current research focuses on the value of legislative “pork” for reelection, the politics of judicial appointments, and the connection between formal models and data analysis.

Podcasts

| January 15, 2015
President and CEO of the Thomas Jefferson Institute Mike Thompson discusses the organization's recent report on Virginia hospital profit margins and efforts to expand Medicaid in the state.

Recent Events

Please join us for lunch with Mercatus Center Senior Research Fellow Jason Fichtner to discuss pro-growth policy options. He’ll also address the research and ideas Mercatus shares with policymakers in order to advance the debate on economic issues.

Books

Joseph Antos, Charles Blahous, James C. Capretta, Robert Graboyes, Jason J. Fichtner, June O’Neill , Nina Owcharenko , Thomas P. Miller, | Apr 08, 2014
Top experts explain everything you wanted to know about Medicaid—from federal-state financing to potential reforms.

Media Clippings

Charles Blahous | Jun 04, 2014
This excerpt originally appeared in CQ and also appeared Roll Call.
Jason J. Fichtner | Feb 18, 2014
This excerpt originally appeared in MarketWatch.
Jason J. Fichtner | Oct 17, 2013
This excerpt originally appeared in NBC News.
Charles Blahous | Jul 18, 2013
VHHA tried to drive home the point in January with an economic report that projected Virginia would receive $3.9 billion in annual economic benefits and 30,000 jobs, but Charles Blahous, a senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, said the benefits wouldn’t outweigh the expansion in costs.
Charles Blahous | Jun 14, 2013
Although the continuing increase in medical costs plays a role in the growth of Social Security and health care programs, “demographics is the bigger factor, hands down,” said Charles Blahous, a public trustee for the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees.
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