Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bernanke: Improving Health Care is Critical Challenge

“Bolstering the performance of the U.S. health care system is one of the biggest challenges facing the country, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Monday. New medical technologies and treatments are allowing people to live healthier, longer and more productive lives. However, the aging of millions of baby boomers coupled with rapidly rising heath care costs are accounting for an ever-growing share of both personal and government budgets -- strains that will become increasingly burdensome unless changes are made, the Fed chief said. Challenges, he said, fall into three major areas: improving access to health care for the 47 million Americans -- or about 16 percent of the population -- who lack health insurance; bolstering the quality of care; and controlling costs. ‘Improving the performance of our health care system is without a doubt one of the most important challenges our nation faces,’ Bernanke said in remarks to summit on health care reform organized by a Senate panel on Capitol Hill. On the health care front, Bernanke didn't recommend specific solutions, saying the difficult choices involved with improving access and quality and controlling costs were best left to policymakers in Congress, the White House and elsewhere. Spending on health care is the single-largest component of overall consumer spending -- larger than spending on either housing or food, Bernanke said. For the federal government, spending on health care accounts for about one-quarter of total spending. By 2050, it will account for almost one half, Bernanke said.”


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