U.S. Comptroller David Walker Warns About Increased Medicare Costs, Federal Budget Deficit
Medicare costs are taking up an increasing portion of the overall federal budget, and the program could become part of the growing problem of funding the U.S. health care system, U.S. Comptroller General David Walker warned at an event in New York City on Wednesday, Reuters/Yahoo! News reports. He said, "If there's one thing that can bankrupt the country, it's health care. It's out of control."
According to Reuters/Yahoo! News, the Bush administration recently estimated that the total cost of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit alone will be $724 billion over the next 10 years. Walker also called for structural reforms to address the growing federal budget deficit, which reached $412 billion, or 3.6% of gross domestic product, in the last fiscal year. He noted that the gap between the last time the United States ran a federal budget surplus and last year's deficit is $567 billion, or 4.9% of GDP.
"But what's important is not where we are or where we have been, but where we are headed," Walker said (Reuters/Yahoo! News, 5/19).
Additional information on the Medicare drug benefit is available online.