The Center for Medicare Services released a report yesterday (and the Wall Street Journal blogged about it today) which found health care costs growing at a slightly slower rate. It also showed, however, that increases in health care spending are still outpacing both economic growth and general inflation. For the average person, this means health care is less and less affordable.
We can’t ignore the good news in the report : that the new Medicare Part D drug benefit has begun to lower out-of-pocket spending on prescriptions and greater use of generics is also helping to keep costs in check. But it is time to really restrain health care spending system wide with things like adoption of legislation establishing a national health IT system, and beginning to pay for high quality health care services, not just the number of services provided.
Until Washington is prepared to dive in and really address the issue of out of control health costs, we’ll be lucky to see any future small victories like this one.
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