CBO reduces Medicare and Medicaid spending estimates: The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has reduced its spending forecasts for Medicare by $19 billion for 2012 and by $169 billion over the coming decade. The program will account for $550 billion in federal spending in 2012, and total spending is projected at $7.7 trillion for the ten years ending in 2022. The change reflects the lower growth in health care costs since the U.S. economic recession began in 2007. Medicare, which provides benefits to nearly 50 million elderly and disabled people, represents 15.4% of current federal spending. CBO has also predicted that Medicaid spending will be 7% lower than expected over the coming decade largely as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision on the health care reform law. CBO lowered an earlier spending estimate by $288 billion to reflect the likelihood that some states will either not participate in the expansion or expand Medicaid coverage to lower levels than authorized in the law. The 66-page report, An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2012 to 2022, is available on the CBO Web site at www.cbo.gov.