Earlier this week, Medicare Trustee Charles Blahous, who also works for the Koch-funded Mercatus Center, published a study claiming the Affordable Care Act would add at least $340 billion to the federal deficit over the next decade. To produce the number — which contrasts sharply with the findings of the Congressional Budget Office — Blahous thew out the assumption that Congress will fund its entitlement obligations and instead pretended that “when the trust fund reaches its expiration, it would automatically cut benefits.”
But interestingly, Blahous made the exact opposte case to a caller concerned about the longevity of the program during his appearance this morning on Washington Journal:
CALLER: I’m on dialysis and if Medicare is done away with, then I won’t even be able to live because I can’t afford the treatment…I just wish you would rethink it because it helps me when I get dialysis. [...]
BLAHOUS: Well, this is obviously beyond a very compelling story that the caller just gave. This is actually very important to the point of my paper, which is that Medicare finances are a very important part of this whole equation. There is a bipartisan commitment at all times to upholding the solvency of Medicare. Now, one of the effects of the Affordable Care Act, is to extend the solvency…What does it mean for a situation like the callers? What it means is that the measures that the caller has to take in order to keep Medicare solvent are now somewhat relaxed moving forward because we’re showing Medicare to be solvent for eight additional years….So I would just say with respect to the viability of Medicare, you have a bipartisan commitment to upholding that…The caller should remain confident that the Medicare system will be kept solvent as it has for several decades.
In other words, he seems to be saying that once the trust funds run out, Congress will continue the spending that keeps the relevant programs going because our society has a demonstrated commitment to maintaining the social safety net for retirement, health care, and so forth. That honest answer comes from Blahous the Medicare trustee, not Blahous the Koch-funded analyst. As he himself admitted, “I certainly didn’t do [the study] wearing my hat as a Trustee.”