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Health care will eat up ‘one in five dollars’ of US GDP by 2020, Medicare says

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WASHINGTON — Health care legislation may be on the back burner, but a new report released today underscores its spiraling upward trend.

In 2009, health care spending consumed a record high 17.3 percent of the nation’s GDP, according to a study published in Health Affairs by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The figure is up from 2008, when health care costs constituted 16.2 percent of the gross domestic product. Health spending in 2009 totaled $2.5 trillion, a growth rate of 5.7 percent in a year when overall GDP contracted.

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The trend has accelerated during the last decade as medical spending costs have surged.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation revealed in a September 2009 study that health care costs roughly doubled for the average American worker over the last 10 years.

“Under current law, health care spending will on average grow faster than the overall economy and that the public share of health spending will continue to increase over the next decade,” said Christopher Truffer of CMS, according to The Hill.

Thursday’s CMS study found that government health care spending, via the entitlement programs Medicare and Medicaid, will by 2012 grow larger than private sector spending for the first time. Noted the Wall Street Journal:

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By 2020, according to the new projections, about one in five dollars spent in the U.S. will go to health care, a proportion far beyond any other industrialized nation.

“It’s going to be a desperate issue five to 10 years out,” said Gail Wilensky, the former top Medicare official in the George H.W. Bush administration. She said the U.S. will have to decide soon between raising revenue to pay for Medicare or reducing benefits.

Public funds accounted for 47% of the $2.34 trillion of national health spending in 2008, the last year for which figures are available. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimates in a paper to be published Thursday in the journal Health Affairs that the proportion will rise to 50.4% by 2011. Last year, the federal actuaries had predicted the 50% mark wouldn’t be reached until around 2016.

“The health system is hurting, and we are seeing that in these numbers,” said Karen Davis, president of the Commonwealth Fund and an expert on health care policy, according to the Los Angeles Times.

While the report did not examine what impact the legislation in Congress would have on health spending, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that both the House and Senate bills would cut costs and reduce the deficit in the long-run.

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They would, however, increase the share of costs saddled by the federal government.

President Obama and Democratic leaders have presented the bill as critical to bending the cost curve, while Republicans have claimed it will lead to increased costs and grow the deficit.

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Televised impeachment hearings mattered during Watergate — but they may not today: John Dean associate

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I started a continuing legal education program with John Dean in 2011. We have done over one-hundred-and-fifty programs across the nation since then.

Our first program was about obstruction of justice and how Dean, as Nixon’s White House Counsel, navigated the stormy waters when he turned on the president and became history’s most important whistleblower. Unlike the current whistleblower, Dean had been involved in the cover-up, but ultimately decided he had to end the criminal activity in the White House, with no assurance of anonymity and with the almost certain expectation that he was blowing himself up in the process.

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If you’ve given your DNA to a DNA database, the police may now have access to it

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In the past week, news has spread of a Florida judge’s decision to grant a warrant allowing police to search one of the world’s largest online DNA databases, for leads in a criminal case.

The warrant reportedly approved the search of open source genealogy database GEDMatch. An estimated 1.3 million users have uploaded their DNA data onto it, without knowing it would be accessible by law enforcement.

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Here’s why politicians who BS are more dangerous than those who lie

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Bullshit seems to be the new currency in politics. Around the world, a new breed of politicians is flourishing, for whom lying and bullshitting is part of their everyday routine. This is earning them both popular appeal and widespread revulsion. But what is bullshit and why is it so effective in our time?

Bullshitting is different from lying. The American philosopher Harry Frankfurt, who attempted to build a theory of bullshit, explains this clearly. He argues that whereas the liar cares about the truth – their aim is to prevent others from learning it – the bullshitter does not care about the difference between the truth and falsity of their assertions. They just pick ideas out, or make them up, to suit their purpose.

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