Congress Shows Support for Harmonization Plan
In a significant step for AACC’s harmonization initiative, the House Appropriations Committee in July called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to lay out plans for harmonization of clinical laboratory test results during the agency’s budget process. The committee passed the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies fiscal year 2017 spending bill that funds CDC, and indicated harmonization as a priority in the bill’s accompanying report.
In May, 13 laboratory associations, in vitro diagnostics companies, and clinical laboratories joined AACC in asking Congress to set aside $9.2 million for CDC work on harmonization. In a letter to the appropriations committee, AACC emphasized that for those tests without a gold standard for reporting comparable results, harmonization allows for uniform results regardless of which assay or instrument is used.
Harmonization has been a key advocacy initiative for AACC over several years, and the association has made it a priority in regular visits to Capitol Hill, most notably in close collaboration with Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS), a crucial member of the House Appropriations Committee. This success in the 2017 spending bill builds on an earlier 2014 AACC-backed congressional recommendation that urged CDC to partner with the private sector in harmonizing clinical laboratory test results.
AACC members can participate in this effort by contacting their own members of Congress using Laboratory Voice on www.aacc.org. This feature allows users to quickly look up their representatives by ZIP code and send a message.
Health Spending to Reach 20% of GDP by 2025
Total healthcare spending will grow at about 5.8% annually over 2015–2025, according to a new report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). That rate is lower than the average over the previous two decades before 2008, which was nearly 8%.
The CMS report found that in 2015, the growth of medical prices continued to be low, about 5.5%, helping to restrain overall health spending growth. Overall, national health expenditures are estimated to have reached $3.2 trillion in 2015. Hospital prices increased by 0.9% while price growth in physician services fell by 1.1%.
In the future, health spending is projected to grow 1.3 percentage points faster than gross domestic product (GDP) per year from 2015–2025. This means that spending on healthcare will comprise 20.1% of GDP by 2025, up from 17.5% in 2014.
Even as the report projects that the cost of healthcare will grow, it predicts that the share of health expenses that Americans pay out-of-pocket will decline from 10.9% in 2014 to 9.9% in 2025. Also during this time period the insured share of the population will continue to rise from 89% in 2014 to 92% by 2025.
Looking only at Medicare, the report estimates that 2015 expenditures were $647.3 billion, a 4.6% increase from 2014. Increased enrollment partly drove this increase, the report found. However, per-enrollee costs are estimated to have increased by only 2.4%, the same as the previous year, continuing the recent trend of low per-enrollee cost increases.