Reason.tv: 3 Reasons Health Care Reform Won't Cut The Deficit by One Thin Dime

One of the main selling points of health care reform was that it would cut the federal deficit by a supposed $143 billion over the next decade and a trillion-plus dollars in the one after that.

But not only will the legislation not cut one thin dime from the deficit, it will also certainly cost far more than the $940 billion in new spending already on the table for at least three reasons.

These include:

1. Legislative Trickery. Congressional Democrats have pledged support for "the doc fix," a permanent upward adjustment to the rates at which Medicare providers are reimbursed. As Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said, "We have made a commitment to do this. This is very important." The cost of the "doc fix"? Some $247 billion over the next 10 years, wiping out any deficit reduction from health care reform.

2. Higher Premiums. In 2006, Massachusetts passed health care reform very similar to what President Obama just signed. The result? The Bay State now has the highest premiums in the country and cost about 33 percent more than expected.

3. Bad Accounting. The government is terrible at predicting how much programs will cost, especially when it comes to medical care. Initial 1960s' projections of Medicare's costs in 1990 had the program costing about $12 billion; the actual result was almost 10 times that amount. As a Joint Economic Committee report notes, "Major health care proposals have almost always cost more...than the highest cost estimates published while the legislation was pending."

Approximately 2.19 minutes. Written and produced by Meredith Bragg, Dan Hayes, and Nick Gillespie, who also hosts.

Read more about health care reform and its costs here.

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  • ||

    The got the CBO to say it was budget neutral by assuming that they would reduce payments to doctors and never increase them. Now that it is passed, the "doctors' fix" is the first order of business. Seriously, shooting these people is too good for them.

  • ||

    Just a technicality, but . . .

    I don't think the "higher premiums" in item 2 will actually contribute to the federal deficit, since the feds won't be paying them.

  • Mokers||

    It might when the government subsidizes the premiums.

  • ||

    But that will be the subsidy running up the deficit, not the premiums.

  • ||

    RC, honey, go back and re-read what you wrote. Premiums are premiums regardless of who pays them. If Gov't pays them (all or in part), the deficit will increase.

  • WordSmith||

    Wow RC Cola, looks like you are drinking too much Democrat kool aid.

  • Barack Obama||

    Insignificant insect! Impudent vermin!

    How dare you jump ahead of schedule of My Plan!

    All in due time, when you proles can longer afford the premiums, then the Single-Payer beast shall be unleashed! Then the we can feed the deficit, Leviathan!

    Now, when the nice men in black come to your door, look into the flashing red light.....

  • timo||

    nonsense! Obamacare is going to cure world hunger,make everyone skinny & fit, and make all your wishes come true!

  • ||

    Stalin did a great job on all those tubby kulaks...

  • Nancy||

    Minus One. For insensitivity. You will be re-educated under the Mental Health clause of HR 3200.

  • ||

    PEDRO: If you vote for me, all of wildest dreams will come true.

  • ||

    But...but...poor people...health care!

    I'm sending this and the article RC linked earlier to my liberal friends.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    But...but...poor people...health care!


    What did poor people do to deserve our help?

  • ||

    And what does this have to do with poor people?

    Universal Healthcare everywhere is about preserving the savings of middle-class voters (to the extent that they have savings after the tax levels they've been subjected to).

    Even the most penurious governments have traditionally made some attempt to give assistance to the poor.

  • ||

    This was the argument I heard over and over from our masters.

  • ed||

    You know what I think? I'll tell you anyway. Nobody but the hard-core ignorant and The Washington Post* and Patrick Kennedy believes that this legislation is deficit-neutral. But its more sentient proponents look at the alleged benefits, and their calendars, and they do the math, and they figure they'll be dead before it's finally time to pay it all back.

    *The political odyssey of health care reform in many ways is the story of Ted Kennedy, and as President Obama signed the historic bill into law Tuesday, Kennedy's gravesite was a place of quiet celebration and poignant reflection.

    The late senator's widow, Vicki Reggie Kennedy, spent hours on Sunday at the simple white cross at Arlington National Cemetery marking where her husband was laid to rest only seven months ago. Ted Kennedy's youngest son, Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.), visited on Monday morning and left a hand-written note that read: "Dad, the unfinished business is done."

    You can puke now.

  • ||

    I hate that. That fucker was never in the military. He has no right to be buried there. I hate when they let congress pukes get buried there.

  • timo||

    but at least he killed people...while drunk and driving.. that has to count for something right?

  • ed||

    John, according to the intertubes, which are never wrong, Teddy "enlisted in the Army (while expelled from Harvard for cheating), but mistakenly signed up for four years instead of two. His father, Joseph P. Kennedy, former U.S. Ambassador to England, pulled the necessary strings to have his enlistment shortened to two years and to ensure that he served in Europe, not Korea, where a war was raging. Kennedy was assigned to Paris, never advanced beyond the rank of Private, and returned to Harvard upon being discharged."

    Not that he wasn't a Congress puke.

  • ||

    Now that you say that, I remember that. And to think that liberals had to nerve to get pissed off about Dan Quayle getting into the National Guard. And all the while Teddy Kennedy avoided going to Korea and got to hang out in Paris drinking wine and banging whores.

  • ed||

    drinking wine and banging whores

    Would you deny Teddy his Kennedy perks?

  • Brett||

    At least he was getting exercise and cutting back on the hard liquor.

  • ||

    I always wanted to meet Teddy Kennedy so I could ask him what it was like to be the looser Kennedy brother.

    (That was really ugly of me - sorry)

  • ||

    I mean loser Kennedy brother

  • ||

    You were right the first time (and the 2nd).

  • ph||

    Nobody but the hard-core ignorant and The Washington Post* and Patrick Kennedy believes that this legislation is deficit-neutral

    Sadly, the hard-core ignorant are many. Most of my friends think the bill "pays for itself" and they dig the new goodies they think they won't have to pay for. Suggesting that the government cannot simply create shiny new things out of thin air garners blank stares.

  • ||

    And all those kids won't be denied insurance for pre-existing conditions now. Don't forget that. Liberals really are just fucking stupid. Their leaders are evil. But the rank and file are just amazingly stupid and uninformed. What is worse, they are so stupid and uninformed they don't even realize it.

  • ed||

    Ideology all too often trumps reality. That goes for people on the left as well as the right. The majority middle has no coherent, systematized ideology. That's their saving grace. For now. But all debts will have to be paid, and sooner than later.

  • ||

    If not for my own kids, I would greatly look forward to the inevitable buyers remorse when the bill comes due.

  • ||

    The majority middle has no coherent, systematized ideology.

    Leaving them without principles, and thus prone to following their emotions, and supporting whatever atrocity the left has cooked up that has an appropriate sob story.

  • ed||

    Yup. It works for a while. In fact, it has worked for a couple of centuries. But the bill is just about due.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    And all those kids won't be denied insurance for pre-existing conditions now


    What was all this uproar about pre-existing conditions?

    Did people really believe that auto, life, fire, and disability insurance covered pre-existing conditions?

  • Michael Ejercito||

    And all those kids won't be denied insurance for pre-existing conditions now


    What was all this uproar about pre-existing conditions?

    Did people really believe that auto, life, fire, and disability insurance covered pre-existing conditions?

  • ||

    I love that idea--no pre existing condition exclusions for life insurance! You can wait until you croak and then your heirs can get a life insurance policy on you. Brilliant!

  • Random Dude||

    That totally fits in with Democrat logic though.

    "Why should only the corrupt fat-cats be provided with bereavement assistance!!! Those whose lives are cut all too short with the hard work of the working class should have their children be assisted!

    Honorable speaker, I request, nay, I demand *stamps hand on desk* universal bereavement assistance for all of our hard-working, blue-blooded, patriotic Americans."

    I can see it now.

  • ||

    I think this week's Friday Funnies should be a picture of a person (labeled America) being triple-penetrated by Obama, Pelosi and Reid. Obama would be doing the mouth, Reid the vagina, and Pelosi the ass with a massive strap-on.

  • ||

    Any ideas on the caption?

    "In time you're gonna love this!"

  • timo||

    No Means YES YES YES... you know you want it! LOL

  • ||

    I like that as a bumper sticker

    "No means No
    Repeal Obamacare"

  • ed||

    ObamaCare needs a safeword.

  • ||

    bankruptcy

  • ed||

    But it hurts!

  • sage||

    "This will not be over quickly. You will not enjoy this. You are not our master."

  • ed||

    Yikes! That's just kinky enough to work!

  • Joe_D||

    Does Pelosi need a strap-on?

  • ed||

    Don't think I haven't thought about it.

    In my nightmares.

  • Nancy Pelosi||

    Are you serious?

  • ed||

    Are you really a man?

  • ||

    Is there a way to create a link to a Reason article without comments? I want to send this article to a fence-sitter, but without comments like this.

  • SkepticalTexan||

    What part of Hope and Change don't you understand?

  • ||

    Well, I'm certainly Hoping for Change now.

  • Steve||

    The government expansion program was shown to be deficit neutral because there "rules" that prevent new programs from expanding the deficit.

    However, the "cost savings" were not why we needed "reform". This was all about giving Obama his "legacy".

    I wonder how history will view this massive expansion of government, spending and taxes in 15 years. I suspect by then, a lot of people will be trying to blame-shift to protect their legacies.

  • Snaps McShitDo||

    I like the new Reason theme music.

  • Joe Biden||

    Who cares? This legislation is a big fuckin' deal!

  • Joe Biden||

    I'm not even joking. And I would prove that by linking to a story about how I said just that, but the fucking spam filter on this site sucks balls and won't let me.

  • Contrarian P||

    I know that's not really you, Joe. You spelled all those big words correctly!

  • ||

    I can't help but think we're contributing to our own misfortunes here by dignifying some of these arguments with answers.

    If you think putting the government on the hook for more healthcare will decrease the deficit, you're either a liar or incredibly gullible.

    Seriously, these Obama people are building a gallows to hang us with--we have nothing to gain by selling them lumber.

  • ||

    As horrific as this bill is--and it's horrific--this is likely just the first breach in the dam.

    My advice to the GOP? Run solely on undoing everything these maniacs are trying to impose on the rest of us. Even if it means pure obstructionism for the next three years.

  • Kilgore||

    I love the smell of pure obstructionism in the morning ....

    Someday this war's gonna end.

  • ||

    Could we napalm the bill? Is that an option?

  • ||

    We missed our best chance - while it was sitting on Obama's desk, surrounded by its supporters.

  • ||

    And people thought I was being unfair when I kept saying "The Voracity of Hope" when Obama was first elected. He and this Congress are working on being the worst government in U.S. history.

  • ||

    Your accounting is more of the same nonsense.
    Medical costs per patient per illness will undergo dramatic reduction in costs as preventive care becomes more available and the care for most of the chronic and end of life care will be eliminated by new and specific treatments just over the horizon. Health care will soon be reduced to computerized diagnoses of genetic and epigenetic pathology and treatments designed to correct these defects.
    The idea that the means to cure an illness will be left to private monopolies will not be tolerated once the results are made available.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Medical costs per patient per illness will undergo dramatic reduction in costs as preventive care becomes more available and the care for most of the chronic and end of life care will be eliminated by new and specific treatments just over the horizon. Health care will soon be reduced to computerized diagnoses of genetic and epigenetic pathology and treatments designed to correct these defects.
    The idea that the means to cure an illness will be left to private monopolies will not be tolerated once the results are made available.


    Is that how it worked out in Massachussetts ?

  • ||

    Medical costs per patient per illness will undergo dramatic reduction in costs as preventive care becomes more available

    Preventive care has never shown any propensity for reducing the global health care budget. Preventive care paid for by someone else invariably increases the global health care budget.

    and the care for most of the chronic and end of life care will be eliminated by new and specific treatments just over the horizon.

    Sounds like those treatments that have nothing whatsoever to do with ObamaCare. OF course, with ObamaCare,

    the means to cure an illness will be left to private monopolies a state bureaucracy .

    that will be busily implementing cost/benefit algorithms based on projections of patients' future productivity in determining what care they will get.

  • Contrarian P||

    I'm not sure who you are, but you have no understanding of preventative care. Going to the doctor costs a lot of money. All those colonoscopies, pap smears, blood tests, psa tests, tb screens, etc. add up. All the preventative care in the world does not lower the cost of your healthcare if you don't stop smoking, loose weight, and cut back on drinking, regardless of who pays. I can't make a patient healthy. Only the patient can do that.

    Instead what all this "prevention" will do is let me start those folks on long term diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, and other daily meds earlier. They'll still die from those illnesses in all likelihood. It'll just take longer. If they don't change their habits, there is no med in the world that will save them.

    In other words, same costs to care for them in the end stage of their illness. Plus additional costs for all the meds they'll be on in the meantime. And no real changes.

    We all know that cigarettes, bad diet, no exercise, and so forth are bad for us. But we do them anyway. Until we take substantial steps to work on the above things, all the universal health care in the world won't make Americans healthier. We'll still be in bad health...just heavily medicated.

  • Contrarian P||

    Should have read "lose weight". Where's the edit button Reason?

  • Punk||

    Fuck this. I'm gettin' me some free cotton balls and morphine. Tank ya missa Obama!!

    Now where the hell is my new car and why isn't my mortgage paid fer?? I shouldn't has to axe you twice!!

  • Brett Knoss||

    Look at Saskatchewan. 48 years after Universl Healtchare came inot effect icluding our own doc fix, Saskatchewan has declined from US level helathcare, to suffering staff shortages, now doctors will ahve to give up their hollidays and work 20 hour days to make up for it. And in Saskatchewan Medicare accounts for 49% of the provincial budget, it almost bigger than all other government programs put together.

  • ||

    Denier!

  • ||

    Kieffer Sutherland isn't the only reason to hate Tommy Douglas, eh, Brett?

  • The Republican Heretic||

  • IceTrey||

    For 65 years under the McCarran-Ferguson Act health insurance was not considered "commerce". That is why it was regulated by the states and the states could impose mandates and limit providers. It also excluded health insurance companies from the anti-trust laws. Now Congress is making the case that they can regulate health insurance under the Commerce Clause. So which is it? Commerce or not commerce? It will take a court case to decide. If it is commerce then we should be able to buy insurance across state lines and eliminate state mandates. If it's not commerce then the new bill is unconstitutional and should be thrown out.

  • ||

    ..........and another reason:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_W57aBMYKvU

  • ||

    So at this point our best bet is to finally, once-and-for-all..... invent the flux capicitor that will power a Delorean-fashioned time machine that will take us back to Karl Marx's birth, whereupon we...do what we have to do (I'll do it. Gladly!)...

    problem solved... (let's not blow holes into my theory that Karl Marx is the source of all this. it's true and you know it [more or less]).

  • ||

    Marx was funded by industrialists who wanted to use the impulses of collectivists idiots to trick people into creating safer monopolies. So sorry that simply killing Marx won't fix anything.

  • ||

    Ya, well all you Republicans , how did the last 8 yrs go for you? Lets see now, Oh billions on the Ieaq war and Afgan war. Oh and heres billions more to rebuild the country that we bombed.where was your leader when millions lost their homes and jobs, where was your leader when wall street bankers were steeling from the American people. Republican party and bush caused the greatest recession since the great Depression. how many of you republicans are happy with your 401, or your pension plans? Well you can thank your party for all this bull goin on. President obama is the 1st president that i voted for that did what he said he would do when he got into office. Whether you agree with him or not , he did what he said he would do. I'm not for big government, I am not a rep or a dem. just a fed up American !

  • ||

    President obama is the 1st president that i voted for that did what he said he would do when he got into office.

    I assume you're not talking about leaving Iraq or Afghanistan any faster than Bush's plan, so you must be talking about continuing the TARP and other bailouts to the Wall Street bankers, but if that's your thing peg, go right ahead.

  • @||

    deer Peg you seem to be iliterit but thx fer playin. Yore good at bein a parrot. does yore mommy dress you in the mornin? LOL.

  • ||

    Obama said he was going to maintain the neo-con imperial foreign policy and he has done so. Stay proud Peg!

    I paid $21,000(me and my employer) for health care premiums this year(in Massachusetts)...I can't wait to see how much we save next year.

  • ||

    Classic, if incoherent, Red Team/Blue team-perspective "argument."

    Let me reduce it to its simplest form, while also increasing its literacy:

    "You've said Obama's health care reform plan won't reduce the deficit by one thin dime (the Claim). You sound like a Republican. Republicans have done all kinds of horrible things in the recent past. Therefore, the Claim is false. PS. I love Obama."

    Needless to say, this is not a valid argument.

  • Jesse||

    No, I think Peg is talking about how Obama promised that everyone who was happy with their current health insurance could keep it and that there would be no individual mandate to buy insurance. A lot of Democrats chose Obama over Hillary for just those reasons. Oh wait, that's right, I just remembered, he reneged on those promises to instead impose His Divine Will over the objections of the American people.

    @peg - Just so you know, most people on here are light-years away from your average Republican flunky. Please do not insult us by addressing us so.

  • abercrombie london||

    good ideas

  • ||

    Give it up guys. It is Peg's and Tony's world we just live in it. She was promised a pony and God Damn it she is getting one. If that means bankrupting the country and sending us all into tax bondage, that is just too bad.

  • ||

    And of course it is not going to cut the deficit. That is the plan. The Obama deficit reduction commission will report next January and recommend a VAT to help pay for it. And it will be bi-partisan and the Republicans will be statesman and go along with it to "save the country".

  • ||

    But it's going to be like Christmas!

  • ||

    About this deficit reduction nonsense: Does anyone with any sense believe this will do anything other than dramatically increase the deficit? And/or taxes? Really, denying this fact is more proof that this bill is so awful that we have to be lied to about virtually every aspect of it. Great for democracy when we're deceived about major legislation, isn't it? Even better for liberty.

    This isn't about healthcare. It's about power. And the fools that support it in the name of the "little guy" are just enabling the next step on the road to tyranny. Good work, dudes.

  • Xeones||

    There are millions of pegs, and they vote, and that is why we are fucked.

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