Obamacare's Gross Costs Double to $1.76 Trillion, CBO Projects

Wednesday, 14 Mar 2012 10:29 AM

By Richard Wagner and Martin Gould

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The gross costs of the national healthcare law rammed through Congress by President Barack Obama will reach an estimated $1.76 trillion over 10 years – nearly twice the amount originally projected.

The figure, which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) revealed on Wednesday, is bound to cause embarrassment to the administration as it comes just as debate on “Obamacare” is starting to heat up again, two weeks before the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on whether the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

Immediately the revelation stirred controversy among opponents of the bill.

“Both fiscally and for the sake of our health care system, Americans cannot afford the president’s healthcare law,” said Georgia Rep. Tom Price, chairman of the Republican Policy Committee.

“The longer the president’s healthcare law remains on the books, the greater the threat it poses to our nation’s healthcare and our fiscal well-being,” said Price, an orthopedic surgeon.

“The CBO’s revised cost estimate indicates that this massive government intrusion into America’s health care system will be far more costly than was originally claimed. The law’s true cost to American taxpayers is part of a series of promises President Obama and Democrats in Congress made that will be broken,: he said.

Healthcare expert Betsy McCaughey, the former lieutenant governor of New York State, told Newsmax that the original cost projections of the plan were “a shell game” and that the new report “inches closer to the truth” about the cost of the reforms.

Editor's Note: Should Obama's Health Plan Be Overturned? Should Obama be Reelected? Vote Here Now in Urgent Poll.

But the administration immediately tried to claim the report actually will result in savings. “The bottom line is clear: the Affordable Care Act will reduce our deficit, control health costs and make health care more affordable,” Jeanne Lambrew, deputy director of the White House office of Health Reform, wrote on the White House blog.

Lambrew also quoted both the Urban Institute and Thomson Reuters Consulting as saying few employers would drop insurance coverage as a result of the act.

McCaughey said the White House was selective in its figures. She said the consulting company McKinsey estimated that half of all employers who know about the costs of the law plan to drop health coverage and said the Heritage Foundation had discovered that the average cost of insurance will go up by $5.51 an hour for a full-time employee.

Original White House estimates said the gross cost of the healthcare act would be $940 billion over a decade, but the CBO’s new figures raise that figure to a shade under $1.5 trillion. For the 10 years from 2013-2022 that increases even further to $1.76 trillion.

Writing in the Washington Examiner, Philip Klein said, “Democrats employed many accounting tricks when they were pushing through the national health care legislation, the most egregious of which was to delay full implementation of the law until 2014, so it would appear cheaper under the CBO's standard 10-year budget window and, at least on paper, meet Obama's pledge that the legislation would cost ‘around $900 billion over 10 years.’”

“When the final CBO score came out before passage, critics noted that the true 10-year cost would be far higher than advertised once projections accounted for full implementation,” he added.

Though the CBO report, signed by director Douglas Elmendorf, projects the gross cost of the healthcare reforms will balloon, it says the net cost could go down because the economic recovery is now expected to be slower than expected, insurance costs are rising more slowly and more people are expected to get coverage from Medicaid.

McCaughey said, “The real key is that the administration 's experts are gloomier now about the economy than they were last year.

“And the admission that more people are going to be put on Medicaid marks a national transition that will change the nature of the country. One third of all people not eligible for Medicare will now be on Medicaid.

“Currently 150 million people get their health insurance on the job. That will change. The White House would like to ignore this, but the ugly facts are coming out.”

Editor's Note: Should Obama's Health Plan Be Overturned? Should Obama be Reelected? Vote Here Now in Urgent Poll.

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