Although health care in general and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act specifically were but a footnote in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address, President Obama may have raised eyebrows when he claimed that “already, the Affordable Care Act is helping to slow the growth of health care costs.” After examining the numbers and speaking to one health care expert, EBN finds that the president’s claim is not so cut and dried.

In 2011, the first year after PPACA was enacted, health care spending did indeed grow at its slowest level in 52 years, 3.9% to $2.7 trillion, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This slide is not likely related to PPACA, however, as the decline began in 2008. In fact, lower spending is largely the result of increased cost-shifting to consumers and decreased state government assistance.  Before the recession, annual growth was around 8%.

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