Something has to give

If there is a dictionary in the world with an entry for “something has to give,” I haven’t seen it. However, the CMS Office of the Actuary has a two part (two chart, really) definition based on looking at what the 2011 Medicare Board of Trustees Report suggests about the future of Medicare prices, relative to those paid by private insurers:

There’s just no way Medicare prices will fall as far below those of private health insurance as these projections suggest. Something has to give. Or, as the CMS actuaries put it,

The immediate physician fee reductions required under current law are clearly unworkable and are almost certain to be overridden by Congress. […W]ithout very substantial and transformational changes in health care practices, payment rates would become inadequate in the long range. As a result, the projections shown in the 2011 Trustees Report for current law should not be interpreted as our best expectation of actual Medicare financial operations in the future but rather as illustrations of the very favorable impact of permanently slower growth in health care costs, if such slower growth can be achieved.

Hat tip to Don Taylor and his fantastic “On the Record” series. The actuaries’ report was in today’s edition.

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