Greenspan Recommends ‘Significant Adjustments’ to Medicare
Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan, who will retire at the end of next month, on Friday said that Congress must make "significant adjustments" to Medicare and Social Security to address the federal budget deficit, CQ HealthBeat reports. In taped comments for a conference sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Greenspan said that "economic growth alone is unlikely" to compensate for the "soaring cost of medical care for an aging population." He said, "Technological innovations can greatly improve the quality of medical care and can, in some instances, reduce the costs of existing treatments. But because technology expands treatment possibilities, it also has the potential to add to overall spending -- in some cases, by a great deal."
In addition, he said that Congress in the future "will have to weigh the benefits of continued access, on current terms, to advances in medical technology against other fiscal initiatives."
Greenspan also "took a veiled swipe" at the cost of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit, CQ HealthBeat reports.
"I fear that we may have already committed more physical resources to the baby-boom generation in its retirement years than our economy has the capacity to deliver," he said (CQ HealthBeat, 12/2).
Additional information about the Medicare drug benefit is available online.