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Stethescope on top of pile of money
Health care spending is continuing to slow, despite the improving economy. That's according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP released Tuesday. They attribute the continued slow rate of increase to Obamacare.
The report cited the positive effect of provisions in the health-care law that reduced hospital readmissions by 70,000 in 2012 and lowered premiums for people in employer-sponsored smoking cessation or chronic-disease management programs. The report supports PresidentBarack Obama’s contentions that the 2010 law has contributed to historically slow cost growth.

“It’s picking up speed and force,” said Ceci Connolly, managing director of PwC’s Health Research Institute in Washington. Provisions such as the readmission penalties “will be having a measurable impact across the health system.” [...]

PwC’s findings track with studies by the government and others that show continued slow growth in medical costs even with the economy four years into an upswing since the 2007-2009 recession. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in January that U.S. health spending, including from government programs, rose 3.9 percent in 2011, matching the slowest growth in 52 years of record keeping.

Analysts have considered the recession as a major contributor to the slowdown in costs, but that the trend is continuing suggests Obamacare as a possibly more permanent cause. Why is figuring this out so important? Because Medicare.

The slower rate of growth is happening in Medicare as well, which means that it would be premature, and certainly detrimental to current enrollees, to enact big Medicare cuts right now. It would also be unnecessary. Another factor in addition to this slowing trend is the influx of baby-boomers into the program. It's counter-intuitive, but in the early years of Boomer retirement, a big influx of younger, healthier, premium-paying enrollees will strengthen the program.  Bottom line: Medicare cuts—and the grand bargain they'd be included in—aren't necessary in the short term.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Jun 18, 2013 at 10:58 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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