Growth in spending on federal health care programs is one of the central fiscal challenges facing the federal government. That growth is driven by rising enrollment in public programs deriving from the aging of the population coupled with expansions in insurance coverage and by rising health care spending per person (which has slowed recently but, during the past few decades, has significantly outpaced increases in economic output per person). Moreover, rapid growth in spending on health care is a key challenge not only for Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal programs, but also for state and local governments and for the private sector. CBO devotes a large share of its resources to studying proposals that would make narrow or broad changes in the nation’s systems for delivering and financing health care.
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