President Bush submitted a fiscal 2005 budget proposal that would increase Medicare spending to $294.4 billion from an estimated $270.4 billion in fiscal 2004. The proposal includes new funds to enact the Medicare reform law, which the Bush administration has estimated will cost $534 billion over its 10-year life. Congressional actuaries have pegged the 10-year cost of the law at $395 billion. Under Bush's budget proposal, which provides a blueprint for Congress to develop its own version, federal Medicaid and State Children's Health Insurance Program spending would increase slightly to $188 billion in fiscal 2005, up from an estimated $183 billion in 2004. The federal government in 2005 would spend $218 million to expand community health centers; $81 million to research new treatments for asthma, diabetes and obesity; $50 million to fund state and regional projects testing new information technology; $1.3 billion to help local areas and hospitals prepare for potential bioterror attacks; and $40 million in new funds for nurse and physician training in underserved areas. Total federal spending of $2.4 trillion would result in a fiscal 2005 deficit of $364 billion, the administration said. Making healthcare more affordable is the top item on Bush's six-point economic growth plan. -- by Jeff Tieman
Editor?s note: The article initially reported the proposed Medicare budget for hospital benefits only, $290 billion.