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Fact-Check: Yes, ObamaCare Made Medicare More Solvent, But Not By Much

During the third presidential debate, Hillary Clinton claimed the Affordable Care Act has “extended the lifespan of the Medicare trust fund.”

Fact-Check: HALF TRUE

The Wall Street Journal noted in the summer of 2015 that the long-term outlook for Medicare (and Social Security) was “better, but still bleak.” According to the trustees, the long-term deficits of the program had been reduced slightly, but how much the ACA contributed was a matter of contention.

Health care costs were trending down before ObamaCare, a decline attributed by some to the softening economy.

Former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius claimed the ACA was strengthening Medicare in 2013, but the trustees actually said the amount of cost slowdown attributable to ObamaCare could not be specified. (This would, conversely, make it difficult to determine the effect on Medicare insolvency if ObamaCare is repealed, especially without knowing what would replace it.)

The hospital-insurance program, for example, was projected to run out of funds in 2017 when President Obama took office; it is now expected to be able to pay full benefits for the elderly and disabled through 2030.

“The hospital-insurance program is separate from other Medicare programs, which include outpatient care and prescription drugs. Those are covered by premiums and government spending, not a trust fund,” the WSJ noted.

When the 2016 report from the Medicare trustees was issued, the hospital insurance fund’s situation had gotten worse – it is now projected to exhaust its reserves by 2028.

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