National Review Institute | Media Malpractice National Review Institute | Media Malpractice About NRI

WaPo Hides Federal Government Takeover of Health Care

Reporting on the January 5th release of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services report on national health spending, The Washington Post’s Amy Goldstein leads with:

The nation’s expenditures on health care in 2009 grew by 4 percent, the smallest increase in at least a half-century…

Which is true, but hides the explosion of federal spending that the report documents. Goldstein does mention that, “On the other hand, spending on Medicaid soared - by 9 percent, compared with less than 5 percent in 2008.” But that number lumps state spending on Medicaid in with federal spending on Medicaid and federal Medicaid spending in 2009 grew much faster than state spending thanks to President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus. Plus, the federal government spends health care dollars on much more than just Medicaid. According to the report:

Federal health spending increased 17.9 percent between 2008 and 2009 …. In contrast, the shares of spending of households… private businesses… and state and local governments… fell by roughly one percentage point each between 2008 and 2009.

So what growth there was in health care spending was driven entirely by the ongoing federal government takeover of the U.S. health care sector. Goldstein then closes with this fact:

The period covered in the report ended months before Congress last year passed a broad law intended to change the health-care system, so the figures do not reflect any effects of the measure.

This is true. But if Goldstein wants to mention Obamacare, she should also report that over half of all health insurance gained through Obamacare will be accomplished through an expansion of Medicaid. What do health economists believe that will do to the growth of health care spending?