Slower healthcare spending could boost jobs, says White House

The White House says slow growth of healthcare spending could boost the job market and help control costs, according to USA Today.

A reduction in healthcare costs for employers could potentially generate between 200,000 and 400,000 new jobs annually by the end of the decade, Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) Chairman Jason Furman told the newspaper. "If just half the recent slowdown in spending can be sustained, healthcare spending a decade from now will be $1,400 per person lower," he said.

The White House seized on the CEA's report, citing lower costs as a positive outcome of the Affordable Care Act, according to The Hill. The report found that between 2010 and 2013, healthcare spending grew at an annual rate of only 1.3 percent across Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers.

Congressional Republicans disputed the White House's claim, with a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) telling USA Today that the slow growth rate was "the result of the terrible economy under President Obama, not his healthcare law."

"The idea that it's the economy is just silly," said Dean Baker, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research told USA Today. "In 2008-2009--fair enough, but now that we're four years out, no one could say with a straight face, clearly the economy is worse in 2013 than it was in 2008."

Furman agreed, noting that spending had continued to slow even as the economy made a moderate recovery, and that the slowdown was also reflected in Medicare, "which is more insulated from economic trends." The spending slowdown, he said, "appears to reflect 'structural' changes in the United States healthcare system, a conclusion consistent with a substantial body of recent research."

Healthcare reform, Furman said, has reduced Medicare overpayments and readmissions, and incentivized more efficient care and better outcomes, according to The Hill.

To learn more:
- here's the USA Today article
- read The Hill's article