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Facts about the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare

What is the Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare?
The National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare was created by Congress in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.

Under that act, the Commission is charged with examining the Medicare program and making recommendations to strengthen and improve it in time for the retirement of the "Baby Boomers."

The Commission must issue its report to the Congress and the Administration by March 1, 1999.

U.S. Senator John Breaux, D-Louisiana, and U.S. Representative Bill Thomas, R-California jointly chair the Commission.

Why do we need the Medicare Commission?
The Commission exists because a future financial crisis looms for Medicare, and real solutions need to be found now.

Today, nearly 40 million Americans rely on Medicare for their health care, and thanks to the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, the Medicare program is in good financial health for the next 10 years.

But, that picture begins to rapidly change in the year 2010. That's when 77 million "Baby Boomers" (those persons born between 1946 and 1964) begin to enter Medicare and dramatically increase the demand for its services.

At the same time, the number of workers per retiree will fall significantly. This Commission is charged with finding real solutions for these very real financial threats.

Am I represented on the Commission?
Yes. The 17 members of the Commission represent all Americans, and their party affiliations (Republican and Democrat) are split evenly so no single political party has control.

Furthermore, the Congress stipulated that any recommendations made by the Commission must have 11 votes -- not just a simple majority -- to ensure bipartisan outcomes that represent people, not politics.

Be part of the process ...
The Commission's work will be open to the public, and the members will seek ways to keep you informed and involved. If you would like to contact the Commission, but do not have access to a computer to visit our website, please note our address:

Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare
Adams Building, Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave., S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20540-1998
Internet website address: http://medicare.commission.gov

What's important for me to know?
There are four main facts you should know about Medicare and about the Commission's work:

  1. The Medicare program is solvent for the next 10 years, but then faces problems.

  2. Medicare's future financial problems are real.

  3. Medicare's future is important to all Americans because they either benefit from it now or pay taxes for it now to get benefits when they retire.

  4. This Commission is committed to succeed.

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