Transcript: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on the 2012 Social Security & Medicare trustees report

Transcript of remarks by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on the 2012 Social Security & Medicare trustees report:

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. SOURCE: C-Span.org

“Today’s trustees report confirms that Medicare is in a much stronger position that it was a few years ago thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

“Without the health care law, the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund would be exhausted in 2016 – just 4 years from now.

Read more: Analysis: Reforms needed to ensure sustainability of Social Security & Medicare

“But as a result of the law, we’ve added another 8 years to its life, putting Medicare on much more solid ground.

“The law does this through a range of reforms, from cracking down on fraud to helping providers prevent costly medical errors, to reducing excess payments to Medicare Advantage plans.

“As the report our department released today shows, this first wave of reforms will save Medicare more than $200 billion by 2016 while also lowering costs for Americans with traditional Medicare by nearly $60 billion. That’s real money in people’s pockets.

“In addition, the report describes reforms in the law that could lead to even bigger savings down the road by addressing the misaligned incentives that are a major driver of Medicare costs.


“We know that many leading health systems have reduced costs by improving care, for example, by managing care more effectively for patients with chronic conditions to keep them healthier and out of the hospital.

“But in the past, the Medicare payment structure has made it difficult for providers to provide that kind of care.

“The health care law begins to break down those barriers with new reforms that free doctors and nurses to deliver higher quality, more efficient care.

“Though these incentives are just in the beginning phases, we’re confident they’ll improve care and save money. And that means it’s very possible that in the long run the health care law will do even more to stabilize health care costs and Medicare’s finances than the report today indicates.

“Still, as Secretary Geithner said, more work remains to be done.

“Today’s report shows that Medicare per enrollee spending will continue to grow at a slower pace than the private insurance industry, again, thanks in part to the health care law.

“But it also shows that overall Medicare costs will continue to grow because of our aging population.

“And that’s why, as Secretary Geithner noted, the President has put forward a budget that builds and expands on the reforms in the Affordable Care Act by doing even more to cut waste and fraud, reduce unnecessary payments, and help providers deliver more efficient care.

“Unlike some of the other plans that have been put forward, this is an approach that will put Medicare on a stable trajectory without eliminating the guaranteed benefits that beneficiaries have counted on for decades or shifting tremendous new costs onto seniors.

“It’s an approach that makes sure a strong Medicare is there for our children and our grandchildren.

“Today’s report shows that this approach can work and it also makes clear how important it is that we continue to implement the reforms in the health care law and the President’s budget to secure the promise of Medicare for generations to come.”

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