By Marshall Snipes, Chair, New Horizon Health Care Council
With little fanfare last month the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released its National Health Expenditure Projections 2015 – 2025. Also, late last month and with slightly more fanfare, Speaker Paul Ryan released A Better Way A Vision for a Confident America outlining the long awaited Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act. In all fairness, other issues relating to law and order, national security and the national conventions of both major political parties have overshadowed health care as major issues of the Presidential campaign in recent weeks.
It is no surprise that most polls show health care near the middle of issues that are on the voters’ minds (at least at the moment and probably through the end of the election). That lack of attention does not mitigate the fact that health care costs in the United States continue to rise at unsustainable rates without any significant improvement in the health status of our citizens. In fact if you view obesity statistics as a barometer, the health status of our citizens continues to deteriorate. Other issues have taken center stage and rightfully so.
Mr. Trump the Republican Party nominee allocated two sentences to health care in his one hour and twelve minute acceptance speech last week calling for repeal of the Affordable Care Act and more patient choice. Secretary Clinton the Democratic Party nominee has simply maintained that we need to strengthen the Affordable Care Act by expanding Medicare to include at the individuals’ option the ability to opt in to Medicare at age 55 (the “Public Option”). She spent very little time on health care in her speech as well. This is nothing particularly new by either candidate so far.
Since World War II, the cost of health care in the United States referred to as National Health Expenditures has steadily risen as a percentage of GDP from 5% to its current rate of 17%. In the CMS’ latest release the health care cost as a percentage of GDP is expected to increase to 20% by 2025. National Health Care Expenditures are expected to increase 5.8% per year 1.3% faster than the expected increase in GDP over the next decade. And that is assuming that GDP increases accelerate faster than in the past decade. An assumption that is tenuous when compared to the recently released 2nd Quarter annualized increase in GDP for 2016 at an anemic 1.2%.
It is not expected that any major changes in the federal health care statutes will occur at least until a new President is elected. If Secretary Clinton is elected expect more of the same – stalemate. If Mr. Trump is elected changes will occur at some point assuming he has an agreeable Congress. In the meantime … the beat goes on.
Mr. Snipes is the Chair of the New Horizon Health Care Council and former Chair of Integris Health, Inc