Medicare, Medicaid spending to soar, report finds

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As Congress prepares to act on critical long-term care and other healthcare programs, a new report finds Medicare and Medicaid spending will increase by an estimated 500% over the next 75 years.

Based on current projections, the federal budget is "on an unsustainable path," according to a statement released late last week by Peter R. Orszag, director of the Congressional Budget Office. Without significant policy changes, rising costs for healthcare and the aging of the population will lead to a dramatic increase in federal spending, he said in a statement.

A comparison of differences in healthcare costs around the country could help determine how to reduce costs, he said. Also, the U.S. could reduce healthcare spending with financial incentives for better care.

The report comes as congressional Democrats are trying to forge end-of-year legislation that will preserve Medicaid and Medicare programs. Some of those programs, such as Medicare therapy caps, pertain directly to skilled nursing residents.