2011 has been, so far, a good year for budget hawks.
"Outlays for the three largest entitlement programs— Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—rose by just over 3 percent in 2011, after an adjustment for payment shifts.
That increase was well below the growth of 6 percent recorded in 2010 and the roughly 7 percent average annual growth over the past five years—partly because previously legislated increases in the federal share of Medicaid’s costs expired; for the second year in a row, there was no cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security beneficiaries.
Outlays for the three programs equaled 9.8 percent of GDP, about the same as in 2010."Why Should Physical Therapists Care About Out-of-Control Medicare Spending?
Aside from our dual role as American taxpayers, rapidly increasing Medicare spending strains the ability of Medicare to remain solvent.
Budget hawks are people who believe that smaller government budgets automatically improve everybody's economic well-being. Therefore, right now, many in the Congress are trying to implement across-the-board cuts to Medicare.
Recent evidence from the Urban Institute indicates that across-the-board cuts will lead to poorer health outcomes for some Medicare beneficiaries.
The flattened spending curve in 2011 may remove some of the pressure for across-the-board Medicare cuts in 2012.