Press Room

Feb 26 2014

Coburn Releases New Health Care Cost Report

Report Finds Exponential Growth from Initial Cost and Enrollment Figures

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) today released a new report entitled, “The History of Federal Health Care Spending,” which outlines a comparison of original and current federal health care program outlays.  The report looks at Medicaid, Medicare, defense health programs, veterans’ medical care, and other health programs like Indian Health Service and State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  The report’s findings show federal spending on health care programs usually outpaces economic growth – often exponentially. 

“This report card shows the growth of federal health spending in program after program is exponential and unsustainable,” Dr. Coburn said.  “Yet, instead of dealing with the core drivers of our debt, Washington continues to create new health care programs and expand existing ones.  Congress needs to focus on keeping – and paying for – the promises we have already made instead of making new promises we can’t afford.” 

The report uses Office of Management and Budget (OMB) data and the President’s FY 2014 Budget to compare initial program outlays to outlays in 2012.   These figures are adjusted for inflation. 

For example, OMB has said that Medicaid cost $800 million in 1966 and covered 4 million enrollees.  In 2012, according to OMB, Medicaid cost $250 billion and had more than 55 million enrollees – a cost increase of $249.7 billion or 31,213%. 

The report acknowledges increased costs and enrollment is attributable to a combination of general population increases, as well as legislative and regulatory expansions, and other demographic and economic factors.  

The report also separately notes estimates, appropriations, and outlays – varying in their quality and specificity – for initial program spending as obtained by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).  These figures are not adjusted for inflation. 


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