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Increased Health Care Costs, Aging Population Pose Concerns

Armen Hareyan's picture

Comptroller General David Walker on Tuesday at a Senate Budget Committee hearing said that increased health care costs and an aging population have placed the federal budget on an "imprudent and unsustainable path" and that "passage of time only serves to worsen this situation," Congress Daily reports.

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According to Walker, provided that "future promised and funded Social Security and Medicare benefits, veterans' health care, and a range of other commitments and contingencies"are met, the structural debt at the current rate of growth and spending totals $53 trillion. He said, "If there is one thing that could bankrupt America, it's rising health care costs."Walker added that the next president and Congress will have about five years to address the issue before large tax increases and reductions in benefits are required.

He praised committee Chair Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and ranking member Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) for their proposal to establish a bipartisan task force to address problems with the long-term financial stability of Medicare and other entitlement programs. Gregg said that the task force would provide a"fair and open bipartisan procedure, its recommendations would require an up-or-down vote on the floor, and all entitlements and taxes would be on the table." Conrad said, "I intend to bring this to a mark up this year," adding, "We have got todo something, or this will bedevil the next administration unless we face up to it" (Hess, Congress Daily,1/29).

Reprinted with permission from kaiser network.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report,search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published forkaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. ? 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.