Looking to Uncle Sam
As lawmakers squabble, spending on health care continues to grow
Jul 30th 2011 | NEW YORK | from the print edition
POLITICIANS want to lower spending, or at least they say they do. But in all the to-and-fro over raising the debt ceiling, little sensible has been said about lowering spending in the long term. Nothing illuminates this more clearly than health care.
A new report, published in Health Affairs on July 28th, paints a daunting picture. Health spending will rise by 5.8% each year from 2010 to the end of 2020, according to actuaries at the Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). In 2020 health care will account for one-fifth of America’s economy. The federal government will pay for a greater share than ever before.
Hawks have long warned that it would be impossible to curb government spending without curtailing spending on health. Democrats claimed that their health law would lower costs. Barack Obama assembled grey-haired sages to recommend changes to entitlement programmes. Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, offered his own reforms. And yet spending on health care continues to climb.