March 30,2000

Roth: Reaction to Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees Annual Reports

WASHINGTON -- The Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees today released their annual reports on the financial status of these two critical government programs. The Medicare's Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund, which pays inpatient hospital expenses, is projected to be able to pay benefits until 2023, eight years longer than the Trustees projected last year. The Social Security trust funds are projected to have positive cash flow (where annual revenues exceed benefit payments) until 2015, one longer than last year, and to have a positive Trust Fund balance until 2037, three years later than projected last year.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE) released the following statement:

"Strong economic growth is once again reflected in the modest improvement in the solvency of the nation's two most important programs to seniors, Social Security and Medicare. Our robust economy -- as well as the reforms we made to Medicare in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 -- have succeeded in adding eight years of life to the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund.

"The Trustees' report also brings good news for Social Security. The Trust Funds can pay full benefits through 2037, and 72 percent thereafter. The date when Social Security's 'cash flow' goes negative -- when Social Security benefit payments exceed revenues and Social Security must call upon the general Federal budget -- has moved forward by one year, from 2014 to 2015.

"However, we cannot -- and must not -- let this good news make us complacent in our efforts to improve the ability of Social Security and Medicare to meet the needs of seniors. The Trustees' reports remind us of the need to put Social Security and Medicare's long-term finances on a sound basis. I will continue to work toward a bipartisan consensus on long term solutions to the challenges we face in both of these programs."