CBO Chief Health Care Costs Weigh on Federal Budget

By Staff Report

Feb. 11, 2009

Rising health care costs “represent the single greatest challenge to balancing the federal budget” in the long term, Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Elmendorf has told the Senate Budget Committee.

In written testimony, Elmendorf said federal health care spending would likely climb—even with cost-control efforts—under proposals to substantially expand coverage.

Costs vary by the number and size of premium subsidies considered under some policy proposals. Federal spending accounts for one-third of annual per capita health expenses, which will climb to roughly $13,000 by 2017 from $8,300 this year, he said.

Household income is expected to continue to lag behind health care inflation, pushing the number of uninsured to 54 million in a decade, an estimate that does not reflect the jobs and coverage lost in the recession.

Filed by Melanie Evans of Modern Healthcare, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail

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