Surprise! Medicare spending estimate rises again

According to Modern Healthcare:

The Congressional Budget Office upped its 2006-15 Medicare spending estimate by $70 billion to about $5.5 trillion, primarily because of higher estimated costs under the new prescription drug benefit… The CMS recently estimated net federal spending on the benefit at $723 billion for 2006-15… Meanwhile, the agency said President Bush’s Medicaid proposals would yield smaller net savings than expected, $8.5 billion through 2010 instead of the $13 billion projected by the White House.

How soon until we see some serious efforts to use Federal spending power to negotiate for lower prices or impose price controls? If the pharma industry’s image continues to decline, whether because of safety issues, marketing practices, resistance to reimportation, or pricing increases, I predict we’ll see major pressure by the 2006 election cycle. It may start with “voluntary” controls on price increases to Medicare as Pharma sees the writing on the wall and gets nervous.

Interesting to see the President claim Social Security is going bankrupt while he simultaneously spearheads policies that threaten Medicare’s viability.

March 4, 2005

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