Clinton, Trump Differ on Medicare at Debate

By Robert Lowes
WebMD Health News

Oct. 20, 2016 -- Democrat Hillary Clinton said she would keep Medicare and Social Security solvent with "more resources and smarter decisions," while Republican Donald Trump prescribed a booming economy to preserve the programs in the third and final presidential debate in Las Vegas.

"We are going where the money is," Clinton said Wednesday on the subject of paying for her ambitious domestic spending agenda. "We're going to ask the wealthy and the corporations to pay their fair share."

When debate moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News asked Trump how he would keep Medicare and Social Security afloat, the real estate developer and TV reality show star replied, "We're going to grow the economy. It's going to grow at a record rate."

"But that's not going to help entitlements," said Wallace.

"It's going to totally help you," replied Trump, without explaining how. He then again said that the Affordable Care Act must be repealed and replaced. He cited premium increases for exchange policies of 60% to 80% that, according to fact checkers at the nonpartisan news organization PolitiFact, represent outliers, as opposed to an average increase of anywhere from 4.4% to 13%.

Clinton countered that the Affordable Care Act had extended the solvency of Medicare. "So if (Trump) repeals it," said the former secretary of state and U.S. senator, "our Medicare problem gets worse."

Medicare's board of trustees projects that the Part A trust fund for hospital care will run out of money in 2028. That will leave the program solely dependent on tax revenue, which is expected to cover 87% of hospital costs that year. The fund for Medicare Part B (physician services) and Part D (prescription drugs) does not run the risk of running out because its general revenue income as well as beneficiary premiums are reset every year to stay in the black.

The Social Security fund for retirees is expected to run dry in 2035, leaving taxes to cover an estimated 77% of benefits, according to its trustees. They estimate that the Social Security fund for the disabled will be depleted in 2023, with continuing income covering 89% of benefits.



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