The Obama administration is delaying release of the annual report on the financial health of Social Security and Medicare so that the new report can reflect the impact of the recently passed healthcare overhaul.
An administration official told The Associated Press that this year's trustees report will be delayed until June 30, three months later than it usually comes out.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity before the formal announcement, said that the delay will allow the government to determine the impact of the massive overhaul of healthcare that President Barack Obama just signed into law.
In January, Richard Fisher, the chief actuary for Medicare, estimated that the Senate bill which passed on Christmas eve would extend the life of the Medicare hospital trust fund by 10 years. The legislation that finally passed Congress was the Senate bill but with revisions approved to win House support.
The administration official said that passage last month of the healthcare overhaul legislation had made the trustees report, which usually comes out around April 1, obsolete. This official said the decision was made to incorporate all of the changes made by the legislation to better reflect reality now that Congress has passed healthcare overhaul.
The new healthcare law seeks to guarantee health insurance coverage for nearly all Americans while cracking down on insurance industry abuses. It also promises to reduce federal deficits by an estimated $143 billion over a decade.
The proposal was passed without any Republican votes. The GOP has vowed to work to repeal the measure and replace it with a less sweeping proposal that they contend would have the support of a greater number of Americans who are worried that the Democratic-sponsored plan will represent massive government intrusion into healthcare.
Last year's report of the trustees for Social Security and Medicare, the government's two biggest benefit programs, said that the Social Security trust fund would be depleted by 2041 and the Medicare trust fund would be depleted by 2019.
The trustees warned that the financial pressures would begin much sooner when the programs begin paying out more in benefits each year than they collect in taxes. Officials say that Social Security will start paying more in benefits than it collects in payroll taxes this year for the first time since the 1980s.
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