Medicare spending slowdown could put brakes on Medicare reform

Medicare spending will slow down over the next decade--and although this bodes well for the federal budget it could also slow down Medicare reform, notes a post in the Morning Consult.

The debate between Republicans and Democrats over Medicare's budget did not just happen naturally--changes like cuts to the program and soaring drug prices forced the two parties to take action, yet not as quickly as some would hope.

In a recent annual report released by the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees, the trustees predict the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust fund will be depleted by 2030--a four-year extension from last year's report which is due thanks, in part, to lower-than-expected spending in 2013.

Because of the more positive spending outlook, the pressure is off Washington to actually do anything about Medicare, the author contends. But a slightly better financial outlook doesn't mean Medicare doesn't need fixing.

"We still need policy action, former Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag said in an email to the Morning Consult. A lot of what's been happening, in my opinion, is based on expectations of payment reform and other measures--and if we don't fulfill those expectations, I fear much of the (surprisingly impressive) progress will be lost." 

Yet not all hope of taking a sooner rather than later approach is lost. Bill Hoagland, a former insurance executive believes long-term spending and budget issues will bring together both parties to really analyze what is causing healthcare prices to soar, and what they can do to contain these costs, according to the Morning Consult.

For more:
- here's the Morning Consult piece