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Each year, Medicare spends about a quarter of its budget on the treatment of terminally ill patients. Last year, Medicare consumed some $528 billion in total or 13.3 percent of the federal budget, which is why the program figures so prominently in federal budget negotiations. If changes to the program aren’t made, that figure is projected to increase 7 percent per year for 10 years as baby boomers pour into the system, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

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