Gov’t to Pay More Than Half of U.S. Health Costs
WASHINGTON — For all the hue and cry over a government takeover of health care, it’s happening anyway.
Federal and state programs will pay slightly more than half the tab for health care purchased in the United States by 2012, says a report by Medicare number crunchers released Thursday.
That’s even if President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul wastes away in congressional limbo. Long in coming, the shift to a health care sector dominated by government is being speeded up by the deep economic recession and the aging of the Baby Boomers, millions of whom will soon start signing up for Medicare.
“This does mark a pretty stark jump in the data,” said Christopher Truffer of Medicare’s Office of the Actuary, which prepared the analysis published in the journal Health Affairs.
The tipping point is likely to come next year, Truffer said. For technical reasons, the report assumes that Congress is going to allow Medicare to cut doctor fees by 20 percent later this year, as required by a 1990s budget law. But lawmakers have routinely waived such cuts, and they’re not likely to allow them in an election year. So government probably will end up picking up most of the nation’s medical costs in 2011, instead of 2012.
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