Medicare Spending Dips For First Time

For the first time since Medicare's creation, the cost to operate the program declined — 1 percent from fiscal 1998 to 1999. Medicare spending totaled $212 billion in the Treasury Department's preliminary fiscal '99 estimates — down from $213.6 billion in 1998.

The decrease added fuel to the fire for health plans, which have been sweating under spending restrictions imposed by the Balanced Budget Act. In late November, Congress and the White House agreed to restore about $12 billion in funding that the law had taken away. Congress's intent in passing the Balanced Budget Act was, in part, to slow the growth of the entitlement program — not to reverse outlays.

The government credits the decrease to relatively low medical inflation, better fraud-and-abuse enforcement, and the Balanced Budget Act. Medicare's absence of drug coverage shields it from some cost pressures private insurers face.

Medicare spending rose about 10 percent a year for most of the 1990s, slowing to 1.5 percent from 1997 to 1998.

Career Opportunities

HAP, a subsidiary of Henry Ford Health System, is a nonprofit health plan providing coverage to individuals, companies and organizations. This executive develops strategies to meet membership and revenue targets through products, pricing, market segmentation and advertising.  Aligns business among Business Development, Commercial Sales, Medicare and Public Sector Programs and Product Development. Seeks to enhance and be responsible for business development and expansion through the development of an effective product portfolio, strong interpersonal relationships and service excellence.

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