FROM 1990 to 1995, we served as public trustees for Social Security and Medicare. As a Democrat and a Republican (now an independent), we worked together on a professional and nonpartisan basis with the other trustees — the secretaries of health and human services, labor and Treasury — to ensure the integrity and credibility of the annual reports on these critically important social insurance programs.
One of the reforms we were proudest of during our tenure was the inclusion of a separate public trustees' statement with the annual summary trustees' report. We tried to make these statements as clear, concise and honest as possible. Our efforts, and those of our successors, paid off. The public trustees' statements and summary trustees' reports have stood the test of time. They are widely used by Congress and the news media. They are an essential source of timely and reliable information for the public.
It is because we so value these reports — and what they stand for — that we feel compelled to express our profound disappointment with this year's report, which for the third year in a row was assembled without the input of independent trustees. To make matters worse, the conclusions expressed in this year's Medicare report were, to our minds, based on unreasonable assumptions that produced unrealistic and misleading results. The unwarrantedly optimistic report could produce a serious misunderstanding of the true financial condition of Medicare and result in significant public confusion.