The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said health care spending in the U.S. outpaced the rest of the economy's growth in 2002, with hospital spending and prescription drugs together seeing a 9.3% increase over the previous year. Prescription drug spending itself climbed 15.3% and is the fastest growing item in health care, even with early indications showing growth in health care spending slowed in 2003 as a result of the economic slowdown.

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