Not much good news in slowed growth of health spending

A funny thing happens when the feds try to reform the health care system. Take a  quick look at the chart on the NYTimes story. All of the “drops” — they reflected smaller increase, not lower prices — correlate with cost control efforts. The ’80s brought limits on Medicare payments — which many hospitals and docs managed to game away. (Wonks –Remember DRG creep?) The second came after the failed Clinton effort in the ’90s. For this one we can also blame the recession, says the HHS report in Health Affairs. From the Times:

By slowing the growth of health spending, the recession achieved what a generation of public officials tried unsuccessfully to accomplish. But in their annual report on the topic, federal officials said the deceleration in health spending was a result of the soft economy, and they did not cite any factors that would alter the long-term outlook for continued increases in health spending as baby boomers age and doctors make greater use of new medical technology to treat patients.

While on the Health Affairs page, check out the Harvard study that found assisted living communities are more common in wealthier areas. That should come as no shock to anyone who has tried to place a middle class parent or spouse in one. Give the bumper sticker “I’m spending my kids’ inheritance” a whole new meaning,

Reflecting their reliance on private resources, assisted living facilities are located disproportionately in areas with higher educational attainment, income, and housing wealth.


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