GAO says U.S. can't afford more healthcare

While it's all well and good to expand health coverage to more uninsured Americans, doing so would impose an untenable burden on the federal budget, according to a top government official. Government Accountability Office head David Walker says that existing federal government commitments such as Social Security and Medicare are already breaking the federal bank. While some have suggested that economic growth--and a corresponding rise in tax revenues--can solve the problem, Walker says that it just can't happen.

GAO research concluded that federal liabilities have climbed 150 percent over the last six years alone, hitting $50 trillion in 2006. The Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit alone accounts for about $8 trillion of these expenses. Proposals for expanding federal health coverage--which, for example, grow the Medicaid program--can't work, he suggested. Instead, the U.S. government may have to impose austerity measures such as limiting eligibility for Medicaid by raising the income level at which people qualify.

To get more of Walker's comments:
- read this article from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution