Federal health care spending always outpaces economic growth and major programs like Medicare always grow beyond their initial projections, according to a new report to be released Wednesday morning from Sen. Tom Coburn.
The report comes even as the Senate is debating an expansion of veterans' health benefits, and as Congress grapples with whether to change or repeal President Obama's health care law.
Mr. Coburn's report, which used government agency figures, said Medicaid costs increased 31,212.5 percent in just 46 years — and that's before taking into account the upcoming expansion of eligibility under Obamacare. The number of people enrolled in the program increased 1,290 percent over the same time period.
Meanwhile, costs for veterans' health care increased 4,500 percent over the past 50 years.
The Senate voted Tuesday afternoon to move forward on a bill that would open up Veteran's Affairs care to more veterans, potentially leading to a longer wait for low-income and service-disabled veterans who use VA facilities now. Mr. Coburn said on the floor Tuesday that Congress should work to better regulate the current organization rather than adding more people to a flawed system with little oversight.
Mr. Coburn's report said part of the increase in costs stems from expanding the scope of the programs. For example Medicare, which was started in 1965 to pay for hospital care and supplement medical insurance costs, now covers a wider range of services including dialysis and kidney transplants, the option to use private insurance plans and a voluntary prescription drug benefit program.
The historical trends suggest that the Affordable Care Act will ultimately end up costing much more than predicted because it doesn't address underlying health care problems, despite Democratic predictions that it will decrease spending and lower the deficit. The report states that the Obamacare will actually increase spending by $2 trillion once the law is fully implemented.
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