Double, Double, Counting Medicare Savings Twice Gets Democrats in Trouble


Behold, the magic health care budget cauldron!

One of the major arguments Democrats have presented in favor of health care reform as of late is that it would both cut the deficit and extend the solvency of Medicare. According to reform advocates, the Senate bill accomplishes both.

Only one problem: It doesn't. Not according to the Congressional Budget Office, anyway, which released a memo this morning saying that such claims double count the bill's presumptive Medicare savings. Here's what CBO director Doug Elmendorf says in his blog entry:

Specifically, CBO has been asked whether the reductions in projected Part A outlays and increases in projected HI revenues under the legislation can provide additional resources to pay future Medicare benefits while simultaneously providing resources to pay for new programs outside of Medicare. Our answer is basically no.

…The key point is that the savings to the HI trust fund under the PPACA would be received by the government only once, so they cannot be set aside to pay for future Medicare spending and, at the same time, pay for current spending on other parts of the legislation or on other programs.

To describe the full amount of HI trust fund savings as both improving the government's ability to pay future Medicare benefits and financing new spending outside of Medicare would essentially double-count a large share of those savings and thus overstate the improvement in the government's fiscal position. (Emphasis added.)

(Link via Phil Klein.)

NEXT: Obamanation to Welch: You Lie, Boy!

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  1. I’d recommend Doug Elmendorf stay away from Ft. Marcy Park, the Chicago River, Lake Michigan, the end zone of Giant’s Stadium, etc.

    (No, I don’t want anything to happen to him – I simply fear it).

  2. No one is certain of what’s in the bill, but Senator Jim DeMint spotted one shocking revelation regarding the section in the bill describing the Independent Medicare Advisory Board (now called the Independent Payment Advisory Board), which is a panel of bureaucrats charged with cutting health care costs on the backs of patients ? also known as rationing. Apparently Reid and friends have changed the rules of the Senate so that the section of the bill dealing with this board can’t be repealed or amended without a 2/3 supermajority vote. Senator DeMint said:
    “This is a rule change. It’s a pretty big deal. We will be passing a new law and at the same time creating a senate rule that makes it out of order to amend or even repeal the law. I’m not even sure that it’s constitutional, but if it is, it most certainly is a senate rule. I don’t see why the majority party wouldn’t put this in every bill. If you like your law, you most certainly would want it to have force for future senates. I mean, we want to bind future congresses. This goes to the fundamental purpose of senate rules: to prevent a tyrannical majority from trampling the rights of the minority or of future congresses.”
    In other words, Democrats are protecting this rationing “death panel” from future change with a procedural hurdle. You have to ask why they’re so concerned about protecting this particular provision. Could it be because bureaucratic rationing is one important way Democrats want to “bend the cost curve” and keep health care spending down?
    The Congressional Budget Office seems to think that such rationing has something to do with cost. In a letter to Harry Reid last week, CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf noted (with a number of caveats) that the bill’s calculations call for a reduction in Medicare’s spending rate by about 2 percent in the next two decades, but then he writes the kicker:
    “It is unclear whether such a reduction in the growth rate could be achieved, and if so, whether it would be accomplished through greater efficiencies in the delivery of health care or would reduce access to care or diminish the quality of care.”
    Though Nancy Pelosi and friends have tried to call “death panels” the “lie of the year,” this type of rationing ? what the CBO calls “reduc[ed] access to care” and “diminish[ed] quality of care” ? is precisely what I meant when I used that metaphor.

  3. You’d think that if the American People were clamoring for this, they’d be able to pass it without all this subterfuge and trickery. You also think that you wouldn’t need to put shit in the bill to make it nearly impossible to repeal.

    The current crop of Democrats knows it’s digging its political grave, but paving the way for a permanent left-wing majority in the future.

    1. How? They think that. But the bill is horrible and unpopular. How is it going to magically transform the country into leftist drones after it is passed? If anything, it will become a symbol of leftist failure and give millions a reason to hate them for generations.

  4. I met her on the LiveJournal…which I kept in prison. I HAVE BEEN BLOGGING!

  5. You mean, the Democrats are lying sacks of crap? Say it isn’t so Peter. And hey, what’s this – you mean the sky is blue? Wow…..

  6. I hate to be a naysayer this close to Christmas. I think this idea of reform has achieved such a life of its own and the dems are soooooo determined to pass it that it is going to be sent to Obama’s desk. I suspect he will sign it. He could certainly restore his reputation by saying that this bill is such a rolling turd of pork infused kickbacks with no real reform that he can’t in good conscience sign it. I think I’ll send him a note and suggest just such a thing. We should all tell him that congress has fucked up reform so much that he needs to veto it. It’s the only way he can save himself. Maybe he’ll believe it. Then the dems override the veto and get shown the door in 2010.

    1. Sixty Senate votes won’t override a presidential veto. It would require 67.

  7. The Dems are going to pass this abortion of a law – they do not care what it costs, or if it is moral, or Constitutional…or if it destroys the country as we know it. They don’t even care whether the majority of the population are for or against it. But since when do thieves care what anything costs or what the consequences of their thievery are?

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