Jan 24, 2017

The outlook for federal health care programs

Christopher Millette / Erie Times-News via AP

The Congressional Budget Office released its annual budget outlook, and there were plenty of health care items to chew on.

  • Obamacare. Roughly 18 million people are expected to have "nongroup" coverage in 2017, which is defined as people who buy health insurance on and off the Obamacare marketplaces. That's lower than the 24 million people the Congressional Budget Office predicted last March.
  • Medicare. The rate of spending on Medicare rose by about 5% in 2016. That was quicker than other recent years. The main culprit? Prescription drugs. Spending growth is expected to ease this year, and total federal Medicare spending is projected to hit $705 billion.
  • Medicaid. Roughly 12 million people will have coverage this year because of Obamacare's provision to expand Medicaid to more low-income people.

Worth noting: The Congressional Budget Office scores its estimates based on current law. These numbers could be doomed for the grave if Republicans repeal Obamacare and cut spending to Medicare and Medicaid.

Go deeper

George Zimmerman sues Buttigieg and Warren for $265M

George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, in November 2013. Photo: Joe Burbank-Pool/Getty Images

George Zimmerman filed a lawsuit in Polk County, Fla. seeking $265 million in damages from Democratic presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren, accusing them of defaming him to "garner votes in the black community."

Context: Neither the Massachusetts senator nor the former Southbend mayor tweeted his name in the Feb. 5 posts on what would've been the 25th birthday of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teen Zimmerman fatally shot in 2012. But Zimmerman alleges they "acted with actual malice" to defame him.

4 takeaways from the Nevada Democratic debate

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The relative civility of the last eight Democratic debates was thrown by the wayside Wednesday night, the first debate to feature the billionaire "boogeyman," Michael Bloomberg, whose massive advertising buys and polling surge have drawn the ire of the entire field.

The big picture: Pete Buttigieg captured the state of the race early on, noting that after Super Tuesday, the "two most polarizing figures on this stage" — Bloomberg and democratic socialist Bernie Sanders — could be the only ones left competing for the nomination. The rest of candidates fought to stop that momentum.

Klobuchar squares off with Buttigieg on immigration

Buttigieg and Klobuchar in Las Vegas on Feb. 19. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg went after Sen. Amy Klobuchar on the debate stage Wednesday for voting to confirm Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan and voting in 2007 to make English the national language.

What she's saying: "I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete, but let me tell you what it's like to be in the arena. ... I did not one bit agree with these draconian policies to separate kids from their parents, and in my first 100 days, I would immediately change that."