2022 Medicare Trustees Report

The U.S. Department of the Treasury released its annual Medicare Trustees Report last week. The Trustees Report includes information about the current operation of the Medicare program and an outlook on the projected financial condition of the program. The Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund will be able to pay scheduled benefits until 2028, two years later than reported last year. At that time, the fund’s reserves will become depleted and continuing total program income will be sufficient to pay 90% of total scheduled benefits. The Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI) Trust Fund is adequately financed into the indefinite future because current law provides financing from general revenues and beneficiary premiums each year to meet the next year’s expected costs. The report indicates that Medicare costs will continue to grow faster than GDP through the late 2070s because of projected increases in the volume and intensity of services provided. For the sixth consecutive year, the Trustees are issuing a determination of projected excess general revenue Medicare funding, as is required by law whenever annual tax and premium revenues of the combined Medicare funds will be below 55% of projected combined annual outlays within the next seven fiscal years. Under the law, two such consecutive determinations of projected excess general revenue constitute a “Medicare funding warning.” Under current law and the Trustees’ projections, such determinations and warnings will recur every year through the 75-year projection period. The Trustees state their current assumption that the COVID-19 pandemic will have no net effect on their longrange projections. The report concludes that lawmakers have many policy options that would reduce or eliminate the long-term financing shortfalls in Medicare, stating that “taking action sooner rather than later will allow consideration of a broader range of solutions and provide more time to phase in changes so that the public has adequate time to prepare.”

White House Announces New Office of Environmental Justice

The Biden administration announced the establishment of an Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last week. The purpose of the new office is to better protect the health of disadvantaged communities and vulnerable populations on the frontlines of pollution and other environmental health issues. OEJ will sit within the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity at HHS, which President Biden created as a part of his Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis. Funding for the Office of Climate Change was dropped by Congress from the fiscal year (FY) 2022 spending bill, and the administration reiterated its request for $3 million in initial funding in its FY 2023 budget. The OEJ, and its parent office, will operate with staff on detail from other parts of the department. The OEJ is tasked with:

  • Leading initiatives that integrate environmental justice into the HHS mission to improve health in disadvantaged communities and vulnerable populations across the nation;
  • Developing and implementing an HHS-wide strategy on environmental justice and health.
  • Coordinating annual HHS environmental justice reports;
  • Providing HHS’ Office of Civil Rights with environmental justice expertise to support compliance under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and
  • Promoting training opportunities to build an environmental justice workforce.

The OEJ is accepting public comment on a draft outline to further the development of the 2022 HHS Environmental Justice Strategy and Implementation Plan to identify priority actions and strategies to best address environmental injustices and health inequities through June 18, 2022.

NSC Director Moves to USAID

Former National Security Council (NSC) senior director for global health security and biodefense Beth Cameron has been appointed senior adviser for global health security at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Cameron will transition to her new position at USAID starting in July. While working at the NSC, she supported the administration’s international response to combatting COVID-19 and the global distribution of vaccines.

EUA of COVID-19 Vaccines for Young Children Expected June 21

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha announced that COVID-19 vaccinations for the nation’s youngest children could begin as early as June 21. Pfizer and BioNTech have finalized their submission of data to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their three-dose COVID-19 vaccine for children six months to four years old last week. The FDA’s advisory committee will meet on June 15 to discuss the risks and benefits of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Inc. vaccines to the nation’s youngest children and to provide a recommendation to regulators on whether the vaccines should be approved for emergency use.

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