Contrary to the claims by the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats that the reform will provide coverage for all Americans without busting the budget, the CBO estimates that only a net of 16-17 million people will obtain coverage, after factoring in those people who lose coverage because of the reforms. At the same time, the cost will exceed $1 trillion, which likely is a gross understatement because the current analysis does not take into account expanded Medicaid coverage:
According to our preliminary assessment, enacting the proposal would result in a net increase in federal budget deficits of about $1.0 trillion over the 2010-2019 period. When fully implemented, about 39 million individuals would obtain coverage through the new insurance exchanges. At the same time, the number of people who had coverage through an employer would decline by about 15 million (or roughly 10percent), and coverage from other sources would fall by about 8 million, so the net decrease in the number of people uninsured would be about 16 million or 17 million.
These new figures do not represent a formal or complete cost estimate for the draft legislation, for several reasons. The estimates provided do not address the entire bill—only the major provisions related to health insurance coverage. Some details have not been estimated yet, and the draft legislation has not been fully reviewed. Also, because expanded eligibility for the Medicaid program may be added at a later date, those figures are not likely to represent the impact that more comprehensive proposals—which might include a significant expansion of Medicaid or other options for subsidizing coverage for those with income below 150 percent of the federal poverty level—would have both on the federal budget and on the extent of insurance coverage.
Given the CBO’s dire predictions, the rush to complete health care reform in the next few weeks is irresponsible in the extreme. We cannot afford another blind vote, as happened with the stimulus package in February, where neither the Congress nor the public had a chance to understand both the printed provisions and the implications of those provisions.
Added: Even though the proposal evaluated by the CBO is not a final draft, the fact that a proposal by a leading Democrat (Ted Kennedy) has been shown to have unintended consequences should give everyone pause. As with the stimulus plan, these massive legislative efforts must be addressed carefully and with adequate time, and not rushed through based on assumptions and promises which lack basis in fact.
The full CBO report is below:
CBO Health Reform Analysis – 06-15-HealthChoicesAct