CBO: Healthcare eating up more of U.S. economy

Allocations to 2020 will outstrip historical norms
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The rise in federal spending on healthcare will outstrip historical norms over the remainder of the decade, and policymakers should find ways to curb the growth, according to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office.

Based on the CBO data, federal spending on healthcare programs will reach 6.3 percent of gross domestic product by 2020, up from 4.7 percent this year, according to The Hill's Healthwatch--far higher than the 40-year average of 2.7 percent.

Of the projected spending, about 5.8 percent of GDP will represent Medicare and Medicaid, with another 0.5 percent pegged to the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Raising the eligibility age for Medicare to 67 would cut spending by 5 percent, according to the CBO, while  increasing Medicare Advantage premiums for doctor's visits would save $241 billion by 2021, according to Businessweek.

But Businessweek went a step further, suggesting the Obama administration consider a variation of the vouchers recommended by Rep. Paul Ryan, the former GOP vice presidential candidate. However, the growth of the voucher amount would be tied to healthcare spending rather than growth in the GDP.

"So far everything that Obama has done cost-cutting-wise has largely targeted the provider. If we don't get the consumer involved, we won't get the results we are looking for," David Koitz, a former CBO analyst, told Businessweek.

To learn more:
- here's the CBO report
- read the Healthwatch article
- read the Businessweek article

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