COPY-Medicare drug program will boost government share of health costs

WASHINGTON Within a decade, the government could end up paying a record half of the nation's medical bills -- partly because of the new Medicare prescription drug program.

That's according to a report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The U-S health office today released its first analysis of the impact of last year's Medicare law on overall health spending.The figures show that the prescription drug program could mean a shift in funding from Medicaid and other programs over to Medicare by next year. One tax expert says such an expense raises "some really, really big issues" about government budgeting.The projections also could prompt renewed outcries from Congress. Democrats have recently charged the White House with low-balling cost estimates two years ago to gain approval of the program.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.