Treasury chief gives bleak forecast for Medicaid, Medicare

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Providers take stock of nation's financial woes
Providers take stock of nation's financial woes
U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is expressing skepticism over the future of Medicaid, Medicare and other government-funded programs.

He bases his observations on negative findings of a report issued Monday by the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget. It found that the government's net operating costs in fiscal year 2008 skyrocketed to $1 trillion. That's up from $275.5 billion in fiscal 2007. The nationwide recession, which officially began about a year ago, and cost projections for war veterans contributed to the staggering increase, the report shows.

"The projected costs for Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs are much greater than the resources that will be available to pay for them," Paulson said in a statement. According to the report, government revenues for 2008 were up only 1%, while costs jumped by 25%. Unless action is take, these types of benefits programs could threaten the country's fiscal sustainability, the secretary said.