March 30,1999

Roth Statement on Social Security and Medicare Trustees' Report

WASHINGTON -- The Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees today released their report on the financial status of those two critical government programs.

The report stated that Medicare's Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund, which pays inpatient hospital expenses, is projected to be able to pay benefits until 2015, seven years longer than the Trustees projected last year. The report also stated that the Social Security trust funds are projected to be adequately financed until 2034, two years later than projected last year.

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

"It is great news that our robust economy as well as the reforms we made to Medicare in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 have succeeded in adding seven years of life to the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund. However, we cannot let this good news make us complacent in our efforts to improve the ability of Medicare to meet the needs of seniors.

"That is why I intend to hold a series of hearings, beginning in mid-April, on reforming and modernizing the Medicare program. Based on these hearings, I intend to mark up legislation, and bring it through the Committee later this spring.

"The Trustees' report also brings modest good news for Social Security. The date when Social Security's 'cash flow' goes negative -- when benefit payments exceed revenues -- has moved forward by one year, from 2013 to 2014.

"Nonetheless, the Trustees report reminds us of the need to put Social Security's long-term finances on a sound basis, and the importance of acting sooner rather than later. Today, and in the future, Social Security has no serious competitor as the foundation of retirement security for most Americans. I remain hopeful that at the very least, we can get a personal retirement account program underway during this Congress."