CRFB Releases "Health Care and the Federal Budget"

July 21 - Today the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget released "Health Care and the Federal Budget," which looks at the state of the U.S. health care system from a fiscal perspective. With national health spending totaling around $2.5 trillion in 2009,  and projected to grow to $4.4 trillion by 2018, there is obvious cause for concern that health care spending is out of control. This is especially true given that over a third of health care spending comes from the federal government (outside of the tax system). Given the current fiscal gap we face, these growing costs are driving our country ever closer to fiscal disaster.

The truth, the report points out, is that most Americans "have no idea how much the current system costs them. Until they do, they have little reason to support the types of reforms required to make the nation's health care more affordable, and to keep it from consuming increasingly greater shares of our economic resources." And unless key changes are made in health care delivery and payment systems, costs will continue to rise rapidly.

The report comes to the conclusion that while deficit-neutral health reform is a first step, it is not enough given the current fiscal climate. Policy makers must also address long-term fiscal gaps. The report says:

"Before the federal budget can take on new responsibilities, the public - and their elected officials - must be willing to acknowledge the obligation to provide the taxes required to pay for health care reform. To do otherwise would further imperil future standards of living by driving the federal government deeper in debt."