KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Analysts Predict Continued Medicare Cost Growth Slowdown

As Medicare and Social Security's trustees prepare to release their annual report Friday, USA Today reports that the rate of increase in overall Medicare spending could continue to slow because of the 2010 health law. The Associated Press reports that a slowed upward curve only delays a day of reckoning for the popular programs, however.

USA Today: Analysts: Medicare Costs May Keep Declining
Innovations adopted and accelerated by the 2010 health care law will continue to force down overall Medicare costs, according to industry analysts and studies, even as the economy continues to improve. Those changes include new payment plans, improved efficiency and a move toward consumer-driven insurance plans that started before the law's passage. They influenced the $618 billion drop in projected Medicare and Medicaid spending over the next decade that was reported May 15 by the Congressional Budget Office. That report showed that costs for the two programs in 2012 were 5 percent less than projected in early 2010, and the CBO data are expected to foreshadow the spending projections in the annual Medicare trustees report scheduled to be released this week (Kennedy, 5/30). 

The Associated Press: Social Security, Medicare Still Face Big Challenge
As the U.S. recovery slowly gathers steam, federal deficits are finally coming down from their nosebleed $1 trillion-plus heights. That will postpone until fall a new budget showdown between Congress and the White House -- and also will probably delay the days of reckoning, feared by millions of aging Americans, when Social Security and Medicare could become insolvent. Why does it matter? If those programs' money dries up, benefits must be reduced. Some answers on future financial prospects should come Friday when trustees overseeing the two popular programs issue their annual report (Raum, 5/31).

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