The slowdown in health care spending growth in recent years has been a hotly debated topic, as experts try to figure out the source of the slowdown. Some have theorized that it is due mostly to the weak economy, while others have argued that changes in the delivery of care or other factors, perhaps in anticipation of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, have been the main drivers.
Over at Calculated Risk, Bill McBride has created an animated chart showing America's age distribution evolve, as far back as 1900 to the current day to the projected age distributions through 2060.
While everyone is focused on tax reform developments these days, we cannot forget about the need for entitlement reform. In an attempt to devise a solution, the Ways and Means Committee held a bipartisan hearing series on reforms to entitlement programs in April. They have since opened the floor up to the public by encouraging the submission of comments on any of the plans and have also released discussion drafts from each of the hearings.
In yesterday's Washington Post, Robert Samuelson explores the unsolved "health spending mystery," whether the recent slowdown in health care spending growth is a permanent result of structural changes in health care, or just a temporary aberration from the recession. Samuelson's piece was prompted by a recent White House
A recent report from Scott Lilly at the Center for American Progress (CAP) makes the case that policymakers have only two real choices to respond to the future growth in debt levels: slash retirement benefits or raise taxes. The CAP paper rightly identifies the source of debt growth as the continued growth in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, not discretionary or other mandatory spending.
As we've written many times before, the U.S. population is aging and in doing so putting increasing pressure on Social Security, Medicare, and to some extent Medicaid. In part, this is due to rising life expectancy which has increased markedly over the last century from 47 years in 1900 to 79 years today.
As we have written before, the recent downward turn in the growth of health care costs is an encouraging development, but one that may not last in the long term. Historically, such slowdowns in health expenditures tend to last only temporarily, and an aging population will once again lead to escalating health care spending in the next decade even if per-capita cost growth remains relatively subdued.
Early this month, the Obama Administration announced that it would delay enforcement of the employer mandate penalty in the Affordable Care Act for 2014. The employer mandate would have required employers with 50 or more full time workers to pay $2,000 to $3,000 per employee if any of their workers did not receive an affordable offer from the employer and instead obtained subsidized health insurance coverage through a health insurance exchange. The first 30 workers are exempted in calculating the penalty.
Last week at Knox College, President Obama gave the first of a series of speeches on the economy. He called on Washington to pass policies that would give middle class families a "better shot" in the global economy, emphasizing education, investments, and research.