Our nations long-term federal budget deficit problem is almost entirely a health care problem. Ten years ago, 17 percent of the federal budget was devoted to the two largest health care entitlement programs, Medicare and Medicaid. Over the past decade, that share
climbed to 21 percent and is expected to reach 25 percent by the end of this one. After that point, if we do nothing, Medicare and Medicaid will continue to swallow up a larger and larger proportion of the federal budget, while simultaneously pushing overall government spending to new and unsustainable heights. The Congressional Budget Office projects that, under current policies, spending on Medicare and Medicaid in 2030 will exceed $3 trillion, close to four times as much as is spent today. The health care path that we find ourselves on will lead to a budget that is permanently and dangerously unbalanced.
The health care reform plans that are currently before Congress take the first step toward getting off of our current path and onto a more sustainable one. They do not solve the entire problem, but the plans do offer tens of billions of dollars worth of direct deficit reduction plus the promise of billions of dollars more in savings as the efficiency and modernization provisions kick in.
Anyone concerned about our long-term budget situation but opposed to the current health reform effort must answer this simple question: In the absence of health care reform, what other policies do you support that will reduce the deficit by at least $1 trillion over the next two decades?
The Math Is Clear