Talking Points Memo has a good post on the New England Journal of Medicine’s new report on slowing the cost growth in Medicare spending. NEJM asks, “Slower Growth in Medicare Spending — Is This the New Normal?”
“On the whole, we do not believe that the recent slowdown in Medicare spending growth is a fluke,” wrote the researchers Chapin White and Paul Ginsburg. Thanks to the cost-control reforms over the last decade, they added, “the CBO projects that over the next decade Medicare spending per enrollee will grow substantially more slowly than the overall economy.” They argued that the ACA in particular lays the framework for longer term cost-control by transitioning the provider reimbursement system from paying for quantity to paying for quality, something even Republicans quietly believe is a good idea.”
TPM also writes:
“If the cost-growth slowdown continues into the foreseeable future, it could have dramatic implications on the future of health care policy. The conservative movement has disliked Medicare ever since its inception in the early 1960s, when Ronald Reagan argued it would spell the end of freedom in America. Half a century after enactment, Republicans have found a potent pretext to dismantle the senior safety-net program: impending fiscal doom. Indeed, official projections in recent years have found that Medicare spending is on course to swallow the entire federal budget in half a century. And that has been the central justification for the GOP’s plan, written by Rep. Paul Ryan, to phase out traditional Medicare and replace it with a subsidized private insurance system. But if the NEJM projections hold, the threat of fiscal catastrophe would lose steam. And that means Republicans would have to resort to ideological arguments against Medicare if they want to end its basic structure — a hard sell given the program’s immense popularity. Prior efforts to dramatically scale back Medicare benefits have fallen flat, and without being able to portray privatization or “premium support” as critical to avoiding fiscal apocalypse, as Ryan does on a regular basis, there’s no reason to expect a different outcome.”
What this piece doesn’t mention is the fact that not only has healthcare reform slowed cost growth, it also uses some of those savings to provide new benefits for seniors -- a fact never discussed by conservatives who want the Affordable Care Act repealed before seniors even realize these new benefits exist. The Patients Aware campaign has launched a nationwide campaign to cut through all this political rhetoric on Medicare.  You can check it out  at