Will the New Tax Code Destroy Medicare?

Everyone has an opinion on the revised tax code. Whether you think the simplified tax brackets and the cuts to small businesses are brilliant (or not), all agree that slashing taxes translates into budget cuts across government programs. This is due to the Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) Act that Congress passed in 2010 to keep the national deficit in check.

Unfortunately, the program that’s expected to take the biggest hit is also one that millions of Americans rely on: Medicare.

Medicare funds health insurance coverage for senior citizens and much of the disabled population. According to the law, only 4% of the Medicare budget can be trimmed. However, financial experts predict the tax code could clean out the Medicare funds completely by 2029.

Why does the new tax code pose such an extreme threat to Medicare? Are any other programs under similar threat? Can individuals protect themselves? There are so many questions – here’s all you need to know about the new tax code and its proposed impact on Medicare.

The actual cuts
Here’s the real deal: the tax bill will increase the federal deficit by approximately $1.5 trillion over the next decade. Note the tax code was created with the primary goal of increasing economic growth.

Since the government has to fund this deficit, many programs are expected to suffer from budget cuts over the next few years. It is anticipated that Medicare will be subjected to automatic cuts to the tune of $25 billion – as early as next year.

Which other programs will be affected?
Many social insurance programs likely will be subjected to cuts, including food stamps, WIC, unemployment benefits and Social Security. However, most of these programs receive their funding from a mix of mandatory and appropriated funds, so the expected cuts will not eliminate them completely.

Unfortunately, the two programs expected to be hit the hardest, Social Security and Medicare, already struggle to remain solvent. Both programs currently run at a deficit. Even if they weren’t already battling a deficit, these programs need the most funding. The result could be almost instant poverty to millions of aging Americans.

Will those who are losing benefits receive a tax cut?
Ironically, the financial class hit the hardest by the loss of funding for these programs will also be hit with a higher tax rate. Most middle-class Americans will pay more in taxes under the new code, and AARP has estimated that 1.2 million taxpayers age 65 and older will be paying higher taxes by 2019. By 2027, that number is expected to increase to 5.2 million.

What can you do about the impending change to the tax code?
Unfortunately, the average American can’t do anything. You can hope that the code will change again and the damage done to these programs will reverse before any lasting harm is done.

What you can do, though, is double down on all your retirement investments and try to put away a little more than you already are for your golden years. Call or email our financial advisor to ask how we can help. We’ll assist you today so that you’re ensured a financially secure tomorrow.