The Congressional Budget Office presents
the long-term budget outlook under two scenarios in a new report. These scenarios embody different assumptions regarding future policies governing federal revenues and spending. The first, the extended baseline scenario, reflects the assumption that current laws generally remain unchanged and that lawmakers will allow changes that are schedule under current law to occur, forgoing adjustments routinely made in the past that have boosted deficits. The second, the extended alternative fiscal scenario, incorporates the assumptions that certain policies that have been in place for a number of years will continue and some provisions of law that might be difficult to sustain for a long period will be modified.
These two scenarios span a wide range of possible policy choices. The report focuses on the next 25 years and gives special focus to outlays for major health care programs.
Under both scenarios, the report estimates that total outlays for federal health care programs will grow much faster than the gross domestic product (GDP), increasing from 5.4 percent of the GDP in 2012 to nearly 10 percent in 2037. National health care spending is also expected to rise. Health care expenditures is expected to increase to almost one-quarter of the GDP by 2037. CBO suggested that key factors contributing to this growth in spending have been the emergence of new medical technologies, rising personal income, and the expanding scope of health insurance coverage.