Health Subcommittee Reviews Federal Health Spending Ahead of 114th Congress

Health Subcommittee Reviews Federal Health Spending Ahead of 114th Congress

Subcommittee Members Review Options to Strengthen Federal Health Care Priorities

WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health today held a hearing to review climbing federal health spending ahead of the 114th Congress. Subcommittee members discussed the unsustainable spending trajectory of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The subcommittee also explored opportunities for savings and policy options to strengthen the health care safety net and protect the most vulnerable.

Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) commented, “The federal government faces enormous budgetary challenges. Our biggest challenge is mandatory spending, particularly Medicare and Medicaid, which together accounted for 25% of all federal spending in FY2013. These programs need to be strengthened and modernized, not just because millions of Americans depend on them for their health care, but also because out-of-control entitlement spending is crowding out other important priorities.”

Full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) said, “Critical areas of our discretionary budget are facing increasing pressure because federal spending on mandatory health programs is so significant.”

Dr. Mark Miller, Executive Director of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, testified, “Health care spending and its growth over time puts pressure on employer, government, and family budgets. For the Medicare program, this pressure is particularly acute given the outlook for the federal debt and the projected increases in Medicare enrollment.”

Chris Holt, Director of Health Care Policy at the American Action Forum, added, “The expansive spending created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will continue to generate fiscal issues for years to come. … Decreasing ACA spending and applying some of these savings to Medicare reform is just part of the fiscal priorities conversation. Any change undertaken should lay a foundation for a more efficient health care system, and the 114th Congress should work towards that ultimate objective by focusing on achievable goals in the present.”

Marc Goldwein, Senior Policy Director at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, offered, “Although policymakers should focus mainly on those policies that help to ‘bend the health care cost curve,’ those policies may not prove sufficient to put the national debt on a sustainable long-term path. And while the answer to this concern should not be indiscriminant cost-shifting, it does mean hard choices will have to be made – choices where the winners and winnings (including for future generations) roughly equal rather than greatly exceed the losers and losing. Identifying the right ‘Savers’ means thinking about how scarce federal health dollars should be allocated to do the most overall good.”

Read complete witness testimony and watch the full hearing online here.

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