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The Best Budget Story that Doesn't Mention...
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By ScottBittle on March 2nd, 2008
The New York Times today has a story looking at the "other" health care issue in the presidental campaign: skyrocketing costs. Most of the debate in recent weeks has been over how to cover the uninsured, particularly in the Democratic race. But this story makes the point that by the fall campaign, the question of cost may be the real center of the debate.
The story doesn't mention the federal budget, but this debate potentially has huge implications for federal finances. Of the long-term financial problems facing the government, Medicare is by far the most serious, and the major reason for that is rising costs. Just last week the government released statistics showing that health costs are rising three times faster than the overall rate of inflation. But I think it's safe to say that most people don't make the connection between health costs and the budget, and so far the candidates haven't made it for them. Plus, while the public certainly considers health care reform a priority in this election, don't fool yourself -- surveys show a lot of contradictions in the public's views on how to go about it.
So as you listen to the candidates on health care and decide how to vote, keep the cost angle in mind. Health costs matter for the federal budget as much as it does in your own life or for business. And we probably can't cope with the long-term budget problem without getting a grip on this.
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