In case you missed it, a new report published on Friday, March 6th by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concludes that the Federal government is spending far too much on health care in order to control health care costs in the economy and to attract additional private business to the country. The report states, in part:
A major challenge confronting the Federal government is in the development of strategies to efficiently target its spending to target high cost-efficient industries or, as suggested in the report, to develop effective means of selecting health care markets for the purposes of achieving sustained economic growth. However, the Federal government’s ability to achieve this goal is hampered by over-reliance on health care spending as the sole source of Government revenue. Federal spending on health care has grown rapidly, as have revenues from the Health Care Finance Administration. The federal budget for 2009 was $3.9 trillion, with nearly half (49.9%) of this spending dedicated to the health care market. In the past two fiscal years (FY2008 and FY2009), the combined Federal government spending on health care exceeded $3 trillion, and this figure appears to have leveled off. The other half of this amount is spent on Federal operations, including the Department of Health and Human Services’ management of the Medicare program, public health, environmental protection, and research and development for technology and medical devices. However, there are important uncertainties in the Federal Government budgeting process, and the GAO believes that spending on health care needs to be more widely discussed and evaluated when compared to other revenue sources such as taxes and royalties, which are the primary instruments used to fund the Federal Government.
The GAO report includes a number of recommendations regarding the Federal government’s efforts to lower health care costs in the coming years:
Recommendation #1: To reduce both total health care and per capita spending, Federal Government should evaluate the appropriateness of spending greater amounts on health care for specific service offerings— such as health professional education, specialty health care, new innovative treatments, and health technology— and consider whether its spending is not appropriate for each particular service. Recommendation #2: To ensure that health care costs do not grow in a disproportionate manner, the Federal government should reduce spending on health care programs and services with the highest per capita amounts in order to promote efficiency and make it more financially sustainable.
Although President Obama, Congress, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and their supporters in the health care industry have been saying for many years that the
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