It's hard to believe almost any budget numbers coming out of Washington, D.C., these days. The reason? The Obama administration is cooking the books.
Okay, it's not actually violating any law. But perhaps it should be against the law for the Office of Management and Budget to do what it routinely has been doing: putting out budget forecasts that everyone inside the Beltway knows are not real. If a private CPA did that, he would lose his license to practice.
Here's the backstory. Health care spending in this country has been growing at twice the rate of growth of our income on a real, per capita basis. Although there has been modest slowing during the Great Recession, that's been the trend for the past 40 years and the United States is not unique. Our health care spending growth rate is in the middle of the pack among developed countries.
Clearly we are on an unsustainable path. With each passing year, health care crowds out more and more other goods and services we want to consume. If it were possible to stay on the path we are on, eventually we would have nothing to eat, nothing to wear and no place to live — but we would all have really great health care.
Now even though the path is unsustainable, it is still the path we are currently on. Private health care spending, Medicare, Medicaid — the entire health care system ? is growing twice as fast as our ability to pay for its growth.
But the Obama administration, desperate to promise benefits that it knows it cannot pay for, has found a solution: making up budget numbers.
The problem begins with the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). Every time the administration talks about this new entitlement, they make it sound like it's an enormous free lunch. Everyone in America has been promised affordable health insurance and the only people who are going to suffer are a few rich people.
Unwilling to raise the taxes needed to pay for this entitlement, the administration decided to fund almost half the cost by robbing Medicare. The figure is $716 billion over the next decade, but that's just the beginning. Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare is set to grow only a tiny bit faster than the growth of national income — forever!
John C. Goodman is President and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis, Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute, and author of the acclaimed book, Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis. The Wall Street Journal and National Journal, among other media, have called him the "Father of Health Savings Accounts." He is also the Kellye Wright Fellow in health care. The mission of the Wright Fellowship is to promote a more patient-centered, consumer-driven health care system.
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