CMS Report To Show Health Spending Growth Rate Slowed in 2012
CMS on Monday is scheduled to release a report illustrating a deceleration in the growth of health care spending in 2012, which the agency will attribute to the Affordable Care Act, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
The report comes less than two months after the White House Council of Economic Advisers reported that annual spending between 2010 and 2013 grew at its lowest rate on record (Easley, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 1/5).
The CEA report showed that the health care spending growth rate was 1.3% between 2010 and 2013, the lowest three-year growth margin since the metric was first calculated in 1965. The panel attributed the low growth rate -- which it based on previously released CMS data -- in large part to changes under the ACA.
Specifically, the CEA report said that ACA provisions that lower Medicare overpayments for the elderly to private insurers and medical providers have helped curb health care costs. In addition, the report noted that ACA reforms have decreased hospitals' readmission rates (California Healthline, 11/21).
Speculation Ahead of Report
In anticipation of the new CMS report, some health care economists said the growth rate for health care spending in 2012 would remain at about 3.9%, where it has been since 2009, Modern Healthcare reports. However, they are split on the primary factor behind the low growth rates.
Some economists -- such as Princeton University's Uwe Reinhardt and Altarum Institute's Center for Sustainable Health Spending Director Charles Roehrig -- said that the effects of the weakened economy on employment trends and an uptick in private insurance coverage rates are likely factors in the slowdown in health spending.
Roehrig noted that spending for prescription drugs also has been slower. He added that CMS' new report could confirm a 0.8% decline in spending for prescription drugs, which largely has been attributed to brand-name drugs losing their patent protections and increased availability of lower-cost generic options.
Meanwhile, others experts -- like Mark Pauly of the University of Pennsylvania -- echoed the administration's contention that the ACA has played a key role in keeping the spending growth rate down. He said the last couple of years had been a period of uncertainty "about what health reform will mean," which might have suppressed investment. He predicted that continued hospital hiring would serve as an indicator of spending growth in the future, according to Modern Healthcare (Evans, Modern Healthcare, 1/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.