News flash! We haven’t been good about controlling health care spending!

From Kaiser Health News:

A forthcoming report from the Congressional Budget Office shows that more than two dozen demonstrations projects launched by Medicare and Medicaid over the past decade have failed to stop the upward march of health care costs, CBO director Doug Elmendorf said Tuesday. But health care policy experts say the findings paint too gloomy a picture.

The CBO pronouncement will heighten pressure on politicians from both political parties to come up with new health care cost savings beyond those contained in the health care reform bill, whether as part of the current debt ceiling talks or in separate legislation. Federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid totaled $739 billion in 2010, making health care the single largest budget item in the federal budget. Those costs are expected to nearly double in the next decade.

It’s as if no one has seen the chart above in the last few years.

I just can’t bear the fake outrage we’re going to likely see over this report. Yes – health care spending has been going up dramatically. Yes – little we have done in the last decade has slowed it. Yes – many of the cost controls, even in the PPACA, will likely not be enough.

That’s why we need to try new things. A strengthened IPAB is one idea. There are others. But controlling costs will have consequences, and if we demonize them at every turn (DEATH PANELS!), then we shouldn’t expect anything but what we’ve seen before. Like in the chart above.

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