Troubled Medicare Outlook for Elderly Americans Slightly Improves

June 3, 2013

The U.S. program that pays medical costs for people over age 65 is on course to run short of money in 2026, which is two years later than previous estimates.

Friday's report by top U.S. financial officials says the program benefited from a slower increase in medical costs.

Data also show that the old age pension program called Social Security will not have enough money to pay full benefits by 2033, which is the same as previous projections. That program is currently a key source of income for 58 million Americans.

Officials say they will have to cut benefits sharply unless Washington agrees on ways to increase revenue, cut expenses or both. Experts say prompt action will make these adjustments less painful for taxpayers and recipients, but Republicans and U.S. President Barack Obama's Democratic Party have been haggling over this issue for a couple of years without much progress.

These programs make up more than one-third of government expenses. The costs are growing as 10,000 members of the very large "Baby boom" generation reach age 65 each day. The next generation has fewer members, so there are proportionately fewer people paying taxes to support these so-called entitlement programs.

Separate economic reports show U.S. consumer confidence rose in May to the highest level in more than five years. Consumer spending declined slightly in April.

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