From the Director – Congressional Budget Office: “Rising health care costs and their consequences for federal health insurance programs constitute the nation’s central fiscal challenge. Such costs exert a significantly larger influence on the budget over the long term than other commonly cited factors, such as the aging of the population. If health care costs continued growing at the same rate over the next four decades as they did over the past four decades, federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid alone would rise to about 20 percent of gross domestic product by 2050–roughly the share of the economy now accounted for by the entire federal budget. Controlling those federal costs over the long term will be very difficult without addressing the underlying forces that are also causing private costs for health care to rise. A variety of evidence suggests that opportunities exist to constrain health care costs both in the public programs and in the rest of the health care system with little or no adverse health consequences. Given the central role of health care costs in determining the nation’s long-term fiscal balance, policymakers and the public need more analysis of the options for capturing those opportunities. CBO is therefore substantially augmenting its capabilities and work on health care issues–and this Web page collects many of the agency’s activities in the area.”
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