The paper pointed to medical costs as the main cause of the increase, saying that "health care and nursing homes cost the government more than Social Security payments for seniors age 65 and older" for the first time last year. This rise in costs of senior benefits comes at a time when the senior population has remained constant. However, the first baby boomers will turn 65 and qualify for Medicare starting in 2011, which will cause a spike in the number of seniors.
The USA Today analysis found that "Medicare experienced the most explosive growth from 2000 to 2007," with the Medicare prescription-drug benefit accounting for a quarter of the increase in Medicare costs. It also found that 35 percent of the federal budget goes to senior benefit costs, up from 32 percent in 2004. (Cauchon, USA Today, 2/14/08)