Sunday, August 14, 2011

O hear Emanuel: the deficit war may already be won

If this trend reported by Maggie Mahar holds up -- and if theSupreme Court doesn't sandbag it -- it could be worth more for America's long-term fiscal health than all the deficit reduction plans put together:
While our elected representatives wrangle over slicing entitlements, virtually no one seems to be paying attention to an eye-popping fact: Medicare reimbursements are no longer accelerating at a break neck-pace. The new numbers should be factored into any discussion about healthcare spending:  From 2000 through 2009, Medicare’s outlays climbed by an average of 9.7 percent a year. By contrast, since the beginning of 2010, Medicare spending has been rising by less than 4 percent a year. On this,  both Standard Poor’s Index Committee and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) agree. (S&P tracks healthcare spending with the help of Milliman Inc., an independent actuarial and consulting firm.)...

Zeke Emanuel, an oncologist and former special adviser for health policy to White House Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag...said:  “This is not mere chance: this is directly related to the initiation of health care reform.”  It is  not the result of reform, Emmanuel emphasized.  The reform measures that will rein in Medicare inflation have not yet been implemented.  But, he explained, providers are “anticipating the Affordable Care Act kicking in.”  They can’t wait until the end of 2013: “They have to act today.  Everywhere I go,” Emanuel, added, “medical schools and hospitals are asking me, ‘How can we cut our costs by 10 to 15 percent?’

It'd be nice, and good for America's social, political and fiscal health, to go back to Clinton-era levels of defense spending and taxation. But bending the healthcare cost curve is the key to the nation's long-term fiscal health.

See also: Larry Summers sings Dayenu to Martin Wolf over health care reform

Could results influence our august conservative justices when they decide the fate of the ACA? kill it.

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