CBO predicts healthcare spending up $1T over 10 years

Federal spending on healthcare programs will more than double over the next 10 years, according to a decade-long outlook issued by the nonpartisan congressional scorekeeper on Wednesday.

Spending on Medicare, Medicaid and other healthcare programs will jump from $810 billion in 2010 to $1.8 trillion in 2021, the Congressional Budget Office said. That spending in 2021 will represent 7.4 percent of that year's GDP, up from 5.8 percent in 2011.

Compared to last year’s report, the new CBO figures predict faster growth of healthcare spending in terms of GDP. The 2010 outlook predicted healthcare spending in 2020 would represent 6.8 percent of the GDP.

The report warns that Medicare spending over the decade could jump $250 billion if Congress continues to provide temporary patches to the formula determining Medicare physician rates. Medicare doctors are scheduled to receive about a 25 percent decrease in Medicare reimbursements starting in 2012, but Congress has acted each year since 2003 to delay scheduled cuts.

The CBO report also projects faster growth in Medicaid enrollment in light of the healthcare reform law. The 2010 report projected that 76 million people will be enrolled in Medicaid in 2020, while the new report predicts the number will be closer to 97 million in 2021.