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View From the Hill: The numbers don't lie...

By Grace Boatright, National Grange Legislative Director (View From The Hill Blog 8/22/12)

  AUGUST 24, 2012 --

View from the Hill Blog: The numbers don't lie, but let's hope they're wrong anyway.

Perhaps for the first time ever, I’ve actually had to seek out new things to discuss and write about for my blog. I mean, August is always quiet, but in the three years I’ve lived in D.C., I’ve never seen things this dead. If you ask me (and because you’re reading my blog, you are asking me), I’d say that everyone is so exhausted from the endless partisan, gridlocked, “stay out of my tree house,” junior high crap consuming Washington that they were all too happy to just leave town and ignore everything for a while. I certainly don’t blame them.

However, while everyone else is away, the Congressional Budget Office has kept right on going; releasing some very interesting numbers this morning regarding Medicare spending. Now, I’m not making an argument in one direction or the other (for now), but some of the figures do grab your attention.

To summarize, the data pretty much just says that Medicare and Medicaid are expected to grow as a percentage of our economy over the next 10 years. In 2013, Medicare is expected to constitute 3.7% of GDP. By 2022, that number is expected to grow to 4.3%. NOTE: those numbers include the $716 billion in Medicare savings provided by the Affordable Care Act.

Medicaid is also expected to grow, increasing from 1.7% of GDP in 2013 to 2.4% in 2022. NOTE: those numbers account for the Supreme Court’s ruling that made the Medicaid expansion optional.

Collectively, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are expected to reach 12.2% of GDP by 2022, or 55% of total federal spending. Yes, you read that right, 55%! Again, NOTE: that number (55%) DOES NOT include Obamacare’s health insurance subsidies that are expected to constitute $123 billion of federal spending (or 0.5% of GDP) by 2022.

For comparison, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security currently make up approximately 40% of federal spending, or 9.7% of GDP. For additional comparison, in 1980 the three programs made up 6% of GDP.

Like I said, for now I’m not making an argument about what these numbers mean, I’m just laying them out for you to see. I will say, however, that it’s probably pointless to be putting too much stock in any healthcare figures right now, as I doubt very much the Affordable Care Act will remain in its current state, regardless of how the elections pan out in November.

-Grace Boatright
National Grange Legislative Director

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