Mad, Mad World – There’s enough madness in DC to go around. Lawmakers from opposite parties seem perpetually angry at each other, yet they are moving in lockstep towards what Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently called a “fiscal cliff” at the end of the year. And expecting Congress to adopt a budget has become akin to picking a 16th seed to win. Unlike the big tourney, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight to this madness. Think you can do better?
In its March baseline, CBO made a number of changes in its projections for health care spending. Given the significance of health spending to the budget in both the near-term and long-term, it's useful to take a look at what has changed.
Overall, CBO has increased its estimate of health care spending by $25 billion through 2022 compared to the January projections, with some programs increasing costs and others projected to spend less.
For those of you who have had trouble keeping track of the many premium support proposals that have come out over the past year, the Kaiser Family Foundation has a handy comparison chart of the most prominent ones.
Update: CBO has estimated that the IPAB repeal bill (HR 452) would increase spending and deficits by $3 billion from 2013-2022.
Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Richard Burr (R-NC) came out with a Medicare proposal today that adds to the list of plans out there to rein in the cost of the program.
A claim that has been popping up in some news circles over the past day is that the doc fix -- which freezes Medicare payments to physicians, instead of allowing them to be cut by 27 percent starting in March -- has become more expensive in light of CBO's new budget and economic outlook.
For example, an article in the National Journal states:
Update: The American College of Physicians has also called for eliminating the SGR and the sequester and partially paying for them with war savings. To their credit, though, they propose a number of other scoreable savings options like having uniform cost-sharing for Parts A and B of Medicare, allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices, accelerating the health insurance excise tax or limiting the health exclusion, and enacting tort reform.
The New York Times had two interesting op-eds over the weekend on two essential components of deficit reduction: tax reform and health care costs.
First, former CEA chair Greg Mankiw lays out what he considers to be four consensus principles for tax reform. Essentially, these are the principles that he thinks should be followed in order to design an optimal tax code. The principles are:
Over the past couple of years, we've been arguing that raising the Social Security and Medicare ages could be an important part of a fiscal reform agenda.