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People protest Medicare cuts in Chicago. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Medicare's primary fund is expected to be depleted by 2026, three years earlier than health care officials expected last year, per the 2018 report from Medicare's trustees.

Why it matters: More than 58 million seniors and disabled people rely on Medicare to get health care services. But a dwindling and aging tax base, higher payments to providers and health insurers, and overall high health care prices could result in fewer covered hospital bills for Medicare enrollees in the not-too-distant future.

By the numbers: Medicare spent $710 billion in 2017, or more than $12,000 per beneficiary.

  • Medicare's hospital trust fund, which pays for inpatient and nursing care and is mainly funded through payroll taxes, is the one that is expected to be insolvent three years ahead of earlier forecasts.
  • The other portions of Medicare — physician services, Medicare Advantage plans and prescription drug plans — are funded through general taxpayer revenue and premiums that people pay every month.

Behind the numbers: Officials said President Trump's tax overhaul likely will hurt the financial shape of Medicare. The law reduced federal income tax rates (which means less money for Medicare) and eliminated the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate (which means Medicare will need more money to reimburse hospitals for treating the uninsured).

A warning: Officials urged Congress and the administration to "work with a sense of urgency" because "the early introduction of reforms increases the time available for affected individuals and organizations — including health care providers, beneficiaries and taxpayers — to adjust their expectations and behavior."

The big picture: President Trump previously vowed not to cut Medicare, and his administration has offered no plan to increase the program's solvency. Many Democratic lawmakers and candidates are endorsing a "Medicare-for-all" system that would replace the current system of multiple health insurance sources with one cradle-to-grave Medicare system.

Go deeper

Rideshare companies say driver shortage is pushing prices up

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's not just you: Uber and Lyft rides are more expensive, company executives said this week.

Why it matters: Demand for rideshare is roaring back as the economy starts to reopen, but the same can't be said for drivers on the apps. That means fewer cars on the road, causing a supply gap that's pushing up prices.

Pelosi slams GOP leadership's moves against Liz Cheney

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week condemned Republican efforts to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as House GOP conference chair.

Why it matters: A number of Democrats have spoken out against attempts to punish Cheney for her criticism of former President Trump, framing the discussion as one essential to the maintenance of American democracy.

What to watch in AMLO's meeting with Harris

Three Mexico national guardsmen stand in front of the metro overpass that collapsed onto a busy highway. Photo: Julián Lopez/ Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Joint efforts to stem the increased number of migrants heading to the U.S. will likely be at the top of discussions when Vice President Kamala Harris and Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador hold their virtual meeting on Friday.

The big picture: The U.S. government has consistently asked its southern neighbor to prevent immigrants from reaching the border, mostly through threats like former President Trump’s talk of tariffs.