The White House announced on Wednesday that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would no longer be using the term “medicare for all” when it comes to Medicare, which has been a key part of the American healthcare system for decades.
The announcement comes just days after President Biden announced he would not be seeking re-election, and just a week after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that allows states to opt out of Medicare, the program for the elderly and disabled.
The order also ends an Obama administration policy of paying doctors more for the same care.
The White, however, is also pushing to close off Medicare to providers of private health insurance.
While the announcement was welcomed by the medical community, it comes as the nation faces a looming Medicare deficit.
The Congressional Budget Office projected that by 2026 the US will be short $1.5 trillion in cash payments to Medicare for its retirees.
“There is a lot of work to be done to address the growing gap in health care,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee.
“We must keep our eye on the prize.”
The move to end Medicare as an option to help pay for the US government’s healthcare system comes after a White House budget document, released this week, said the US would be paying Medicare benefits in 2018 for an average of $7,976 per person.
In 2020, that would increase to $8,664 per person, according to the CBO.
The new policy will only apply to the elderly, the disabled, and individuals with chronic conditions.
Medicare beneficiaries will not be able to opt-out of their current Medicare benefits, as is the case under the Affordable Care Act.
The decision comes as President Trump and congressional Republicans have been hammering the healthcare system since taking office in January.
The administration has called Medicare an “unconstitutional entitlement” that should be “retired.”
While the move will likely have an impact on other parts of the healthcare industry, it’s not expected to have a major impact on the healthcare delivery system for the vast majority of Americans.
According to a recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-partisan research group, more than 85 percent of Americans aged 65 and older rely on Medicare for health care.
By 2020, the vast bulk of Medicare beneficiaries are expected to be in that age group, with an estimated 1.4 million beneficiaries and nearly 400 million beneficiaries, according the Kaiser report.
The CBO estimated in January that if the ACA were fully implemented, the healthcare cost per enrollee would decline by about $1,500 by 2023, and the cost per beneficiary would decline slightly by about 4 percent by 2027.