Maggie Mahar (Taking Note): It is an article of faith, at least among conservatives, that as long as Medicare remains a government program, outlays will rise relentlessly, year after year. Only “the market” could possibly tame Medicare inflation, they say. The fear-mongers argue that unless we either shift costs to seniors; raise the age when they become eligible for Medicare; or turn the whole program over to private sector insurers, Medicare expenditures will bankrupt the country.
Here is the truth: Both Standard & Poor’s (S&P) and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) now have 18 months of hard data showing that Medicare spending has begun to slow dramatically.
Health reform legislation has not yet begun to kick in to pare Medicare payments, but something is changing on the ground. Medicare spending began to plunge in January of 2010. After levitating by an average of 9.7 percent a year from 2000 to 2009, CBO’s monthly budget reports show that Medicare pay-outs are now rising by less than 4 percent a year…..
… This slow-down is not a result of Congress cutting Medicare spending. Instead, as former White House health care adviser Dr Zeke Emanuel pointed out, providers are “anticipating the Affordable Care Act kicking in 2014”. They can’t wait until the end of 2013, he explained: “They have to act today. Everywhere I go,” Emanuel, told me, “medical schools and hospitals are asking me, ‘How can we cut our costs by 10 to 15 percent?’ They know that they must trim their own costs if they are going to lower the bills that they send to Medicare.’”….
Full post here