On New Year’s Day, the first baby boomers, those born in 1946, will celebrate their 65th Birthday. Beginning Jan. 1, 10,000 Baby Boomers a day will turn 65. That will continue for the next 19 years. “Baby Boomers” include the 77 million Americans born from 1946 through 1964.
“The retirement of the baby boom generation will bring a tsunami of spending that will cause a severe problem for the federal government’s budget over time,” David Walker, former U.S. comptroller general and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative, is quoted in a CBS Evening News special report as saying.
According to this report by CBS News, Medicare, the federal health care insurance program for the elderly and disabled, will face the following challenges to its solvency:
- The number of people eligible for Medicare will nearly double from 46 million to 80 million by the time all the Boomers reach age 65.
- Estimates project that the cost of Medicare will grow from $500 billion a year today to $929 billion by 2020.
- Population trends indicate that the number of workers supporting each senior will fall.
David Walker is further quoted as saying: “Ultimately we’re going to have to make tough choices about how much health care can we afford and sustain and how are we going to change our payment systems to make sure that it doesn’t bankrupt the country …Medicare is already underfunded by at least $23 trillion.” That is the difference between the benefits promised and the taxes actually being paid into Medicare. Medicare could go bankrupt as early as 2017, according to the CBS report.
Yet according to a new Associated Press/GfK poll, Americans don’t want to raise the age for Medicare. Sixty-one percent favor raising Medicare taxes to avoid cutting Medicare benefits, and a majority of both Democrats and Republicans, young and old, would rather raise taxes than cut benefits.