View Full Version : Report: Health Overhaul Will Increase Nation's Tab

04-23-2010, 08:27 AM
Report: Health Overhaul Will Increase Nation's Tab

Associated Press

A report by economic experts at the Health and Human Services Department said the new health care law will expand insurance but won't reduce runaway costs

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law will increase the nation's health care tab instead of bringing costs down, government economic forecasters concluded Thursday in a sobering assessment of the sweeping legislation.

A report by economic experts at the Health and Human Services Department said the health care remake will achieve Obama's aim of expanding health insurance -- adding 34 million Americans to the coverage rolls.

But the analysis also found that the law falls short of the president's twin goal of controlling runaway costs, raising projected spending by about 1 percent over 10 years. That increase could get bigger, however, since the report also warned that Medicare cuts in the law may be unrealistic and unsustainable, forcing lawmakers to roll them back.

The mixed verdict for Obama's signature issue is the first comprehensive look by neutral experts.

In particular, the warnings about Medicare could become a major political liability for Democratic lawmakers in the midterm elections. The report projected that Medicare cuts could drive about 15 percent of hospitals and other institutional providers into the red, "possibly jeopardizing access" to care for seniors.

The report from Medicare's Office of the Actuary carried a disclaimer saying it does not represent the official position of the Obama administration. White House officials have repeatedly complained that such analyses have been too pessimistic and lowball the law's potential to achieve savings.

The report acknowledged that some of the cost-control measures in the bill -- Medicare cuts, a tax on high-cost insurance
and a commission to seek ongoing Medicare savings -- could help reduce the rate of cost increases beyond 2020. But it held out little hope for progress in the first decade.

"During 2010-2019, however, these effects would be outweighed by the increased costs associated with the expansions of health insurance coverage," wrote Richard S. Foster, Medicare's chief actuary. "Also, the longer-term viability of the Medicare ... reductions is doubtful." Foster's office is responsible for long-range costs estimates.

Republicans said the findings validate their concerns about Obama's 10-year, nearly $1 trillion plan to remake the nation's health care system.

"A trillion dollars gets spent, and it's no surprise -- health care costs are going to go up," said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., a leading Republican on health care issues. Camp added that he's concerned the Medicare cuts will undermine care for seniors.

Congress in the past has enacted deeper Medicare cuts without disrupting service, and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a statement that sought to highlight some positive findings for seniors. For example, the report concluded that Medicare monthly premiums would be lower than otherwise expected, due to the spending reductions.

"The Affordable Care Act will improve the health care system for all Americans and we will continue our work to quickly and carefully implement the new law," the statement said.

Passed by a divided Congress after a year of bitter partisan debate, the law would create new health insurance markets for individuals and small businesses. Starting in 2014, most Americans would be required to carry health insurance except in cases of financial hardship. Tax credits would help many middle-class households pay their premiums, while Medicaid would pick up more low-income people. Insurers would be required to accept all applicants, regardless of their health.

A separate Congressional Budget Office analysis, also released Thursday, estimated that 4 million households would be hit with tax penalties under the law for failing to get insurance.

The U.S. spends $2.5 trillion a year on health care, far more per person than any other developed nation, and for results that aren't clearly better when compared to more frugal countries. At the outset of the health care debate last year, Obama held out the hope that by bending the cost curve down, the U.S. could cover all its citizens for about what the nation would spend absent any reforms. The report found that the president's law missed the mark, although not by much. The overhaul will increase national health care spending by $311 billion from 2010-2019, or nine-tenths of 1 percent. To put that in perspective, total health care spending during the decade is estimated to surpass $35 trillion.

Administration officials argue the increase is a bargain price for guaranteeing coverage to 95 percent of Americans. They also point out that the law will decrease the federal deficit by $143 billion over the 10-year period, even if overall health care spending rises.

The report's most sober assessments concerned Medicare.

In addition to flagging the cuts to hospitals, nursing homes and other providers as potentially unsustainable, it projected that reductions in payments to private Medicare Advantage plans would trigger an exodus from the popular program. Enrollment would plummet by about 50 percent, as the plans reduce extra benefits that they currently offer. Seniors leaving the private plans would still have health insurance under traditional Medicare, but many might face higher out-of-pocket costs.

In another flashing yellow light, the report warned that a new voluntary long-term care insurance program created under the law faces "a very serious risk" of insolvency.


04-23-2010, 08:36 AM
Also, this bill is basically openly dishonest, as it depends on cuts in Medicare, which will never, ever, ever, ever, ever happen. Cutting Medicare will arouse the AARP's ire and spell political suicide for any politician who votes in favor of cuts.

04-23-2010, 08:38 AM
But Obama said it would reduce costs.

Of course, he also thought there was no problem with Fannie and Freddie, the stimulus would keep unemployment under 8%, and the troop surge wouldn't work.

04-23-2010, 03:35 PM
And your taxes "won't go up, not one dime"

04-23-2010, 08:39 PM
Imagine that: Obamacare raises costs for everyone... and profits for the insurance companies. Maybe that's why their stock prices went up the next day, after Obama's "socialist" plan was voted on.

04-24-2010, 12:22 AM
Report: Health Overhaul Will Increase Nation's Tab

No shit, Sherlock.

04-24-2010, 12:41 AM
I'm actually shocked that this was produced as News.

There is nothing NEW about it.

04-24-2010, 06:12 AM
We all knew this. I think the liberals on this forum knew it too, they just didn't want to admit it. Now we're stuck with this boondoggle unless the courts strike it down as unconstitutional.

04-24-2010, 08:56 AM
Why do we allow this pattern to repeat itself. How many times do we need to see the same thing repeat before we have had enough.

"Crisis" - "Something must be fixed or we'll all die in festers and boils".

The campaign - The "crisis" threatens life as we know it. We must act now. We can't risk the time of scrutiny. The (fill in the villain)s are obstructing to save their own (fill in selfishness). This will save us a ton in the long run. Lie. Deflect. Subterfuge. Set up scapegoat. Vilify. Make backroom deals. Get the votes lined up.

"Vote" - Announce the great victory for (fill in victim group). Rub (villain's face) in it.

The afterbirth - The economy is collapsing. Everybody "needs" to sacrifice for the common "good". The (villain) is responsible for the deficit.

Rinse. Repeat.

For as strong and accomplished a nation as we are, we are colossally stupid. Well, some are.

04-26-2010, 09:35 AM
Even the left (at least the realistic ones NOT living in Cloud Kookoo Land) are beginning to come to grips with how expensive this will be even if the original fantasy plan worked out perfectly...


WASHINGTON: What's it going to cost me?
That's the single biggest unanswered question about President Barack Obama's new health-care overhaul law and its weak spot.
Many experts believe the law falls short on taming costs, and that will force Congress to revisit health care in a few years.
While it seems hard to believe now, Republicans might want to participate in a debate over costs, perhaps opening the way for limits on malpractice lawsuits and other ideas they've advocated.
''Now that the baseline question of coverage has been answered, it would be irresponsible if we didn't come back and try to do more on costs,'' said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who voted for the bill and led efforts to squeeze more savings.
''I think there is going to be a debate in the Republican Party on whether they should waste all their energy on repeal or make an effort to do something on cost containment,'' Warner said.
For now, the political parties are too polarized and lawmakers too exhausted to contemplate health care 2.0. Conservatives are planning court challenges, and some Republican leaders hold out the promise of repeal. But economic reality probably will bring lawmakers back to the table.
Insurance premiums are likely to keep going up over the next few years. Experts predict that the law's early benefits such as expanded coverage for children and young adults could nudge rates a little higher than would otherwise have been the case. Also, insurers and medical providers could try to raise their prices ahead of big shifts set for 2014.
Under the 10-year, $1 trillion plan, 2014 is when competitive insurance markets for individuals and small businesses are expected to open, and tax credits start flowing to help millions of middle-class households now uninsured. Medicaid will expand and pick up millions of low-income people. Most Americans would be required to carry health insurance, except in cases of financial hardship. Insurers no longer could turn away those in poor health.
More than 30 million previously uninsured people would gain coverage quickly and they'll start going to the doctor for care previously postponed. Increased demand will push up health-care spending, putting more pressure on premiums.
The cost controls in the bill are unlikely to provide much of a counterweight. Democrats scrambling to line up votes for the final bill weakened a provision that would have enforced austerity through a hefty tax on high-cost employer coverage.
Other savings in the law mainly Medicare cuts may prove politically unsustainable, according to the government's own experts.
The problem isn't that the 2,700-page law is devoid of ideas for curbing costs. Many mainstream proposals are incorporated in some form. But what will work?
While the law creates a commission to keep pursuing deeper Medicare savings, there's no overall cost control strategy and no single official to coordinate many experiments seeking greater efficiency.

04-26-2010, 09:42 AM
We all knew this. I think the liberals on this forum knew it too, they just didn't want to admit it. Now we're stuck with this boondoggle unless the courts strike it down as unconstitutional.

Yep. As far as the courts striking this debacle down as unconstitutional, I think hell will freeze over first, unfortunately. :shake01:

04-26-2010, 09:51 AM
Wow. Really?
It's gonna cost MORE?

I'm totally bewildered.

I NEVER imagined that it would cost MORE.

(Is there not a single active neuron in the brains of these douches?)

04-26-2010, 09:58 AM
Wow. Really?
It's gonna cost MORE?

I'm totally bewildered.

I NEVER imagined that it would cost MORE.

(Is there not a single active neuron in the brains of these douches?)

What are you talkin bout? I thought it was FREE.