Federal healthcare spending tops Social Security for the first time


Spending on federal healthcare programs outpaced spending on Social Security for the first time in 2015, according to an expansive report from the congressional budget scorekeeper released Monday.

The government spent $936 billion last year on health programs including Medicare, Medicaid and subsidies related to the Affordable Care Act, a jump of 13 percent from 2014, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Spending on Social Security, in contrast, totaled $882 billion, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported.

The swelling cost of health programs is likely to ignite an election-year debate on the right over ObamaCare and its impact on the budget.

Democrats will likely argue that the healthcare law is fiscially responsible and needs to be strengthened, in part by toughening regulations on the prescription drug industry.

The CBO report also offers a wider warning about mandatory spending programs and their growing share of the federal budget.

Spending on mandatory programs rose by $200 billion, or 9.5 percent, last year. That's almost double the average annual rate of increase, 5.4 percent, during the previous decade. 

The 200-page budget summary also offers a detailed forecast for federal deficits.

This is the first year the CBO has projected that deficits would rise since the depths of the recession in 2009, a prediction the agency laid out last week and explained in detail on Monday.