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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

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”