By Gary Shapiro
With the newly created “super committee” gearing up to trim government spending, it seems wise to focus on one of the biggest multipliers to our growing debt. Not surprisingly, Medicaid and Medicare together consume 20 percent of 2011 federal spending and are projected to consume $1.38 trillion or 24 percent of federal spending by 2021, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
It’s true that rising health care costs are multi-faceted: improved technology, new drugs, rising costs of hospital care, malpractice and over testing, all contribute to growing costs. Yet few politicians focus on how to bring costs down. The new health care law (aka “Obamacare”) assumes a 15 member panel will cut $500 billion from Medicare spending, giving Congress little time to override any of the panel’s decisions. Surprisingly, this huge power received scant attention during the bill’s debate, yet was the major cost saver relied on to provide government health care to an additional 16 million Americans.