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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Medical spending slowdown a national trend

Posted By on Tue, Feb 12, 2013 at 6:52 AM

Arkansas has gotten news lately of a drop in the expected Medicaid deficit thanks to slowing cost increases.

We are not alone. NY Times today:

A sharp and surprisingly persistent slowdown in the growth of health care costs is helping to narrow the federal deficit, leaving budget experts trying to figure out whether the trend will last and how much the slower growth could help alleviate the country’s long-term fiscal problems.
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In figures released last week, the Congressional Budget Office said it had erased hundreds of billions of dollars in projected spending on Medicare and Medicaid. The budget office now projects that spending on those two programs in 2020 will be about $200 billion, or 15 percent, less than it projected three years ago. New data also show overall health care spending growth continuing at the lowest rate in decades for a fourth consecutive year.

Why? Maybe from changes in health care delivery. Maybe doctors have all decided to get by on less income. You think? Or maybe a combination of factors:

Part of the slowdown stems from “the recession and the loss of income and wealth” causing people to cut back on health care, Douglas W. Elmendorf, the director of the Congressional Budget Office, said last week. But he added that a “significant part” of the slowdown “probably arises from structural changes in the health care system.”

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