ObamaCare to Cost More Than Expected? Where Have I Heard This Before?
Today, as Nick Gillespie noted earlier, Washington is shocked, SHOCKED to learn that the Affordable Care Act might not be as easy to pay for as promised. According to an AP summary, a new report "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, since Medicare cuts in the law may be unrealistic and unsustainable, the report warned."
But didn't budget-hottie Peter Orszag warn us not to be swayed by such obviously false charges? After all, ObamaCare is fiscally responsible! What clan of knee-jerk critics could have produced such a report? The libertarians at Cato? The conservatives at Heritage? The neocons at AEI? The socialists at Physicians for a National Health Plan?
Try again: This is the word straight from the Obama administration's Health and Human Services Department, the agency assigned to manage the reforms at the federal level.
Nor did the report's bad news stop there. It also "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." So when the President told AARP members that "nobody is talking about reducing Medicare benefits," presumably he meant nobody but, um, Medicare's chief actuary. But that doesn't really count, does it?
Of course, at this point, if we discount the claims of any agency or news organization that has expressed caution or concern that the law might not work as promised, we have to throw out the Congressional Research Service, the Joint Committee on Taxation, the New York Times, the L.A. Times, and The Hill, just to name a few. In the days since the Affordable Care Act's passage, reports from government agencies and mainstream news organizations have started to ask many of the same questions—and come to many of the same conclusions—that were asked by critics of the law in the year before it was passed.
Just look at the New York Times. Since the law's passage, the Grey Lady has reported that New York state's efforts to regulate insurance companies drove premiums through the roof and destroyed the market—and an individual mandate, which the state lacked, is a theoretical fix at best. The paper of record also reported that the law may not actually bring down costs for the sick, that the law was hastily and confusingly written (enough that it may deprive Congressional representatives and their staffs of health care coverage), that it may not help all the tough-luck cases it was supposed to resolve, and that health insurers may soon be turned into de facto public utilities.
The details vary somewhat, but cumulative picture is one that's broadly in line with what critics have been arguing since the first legislative drafts became available (at least). Rather than offer true reform for our country's health care system, ObamaCare takes a dysfunctional mess and makes it even more dysfunctional, and at greater cost.
I noted the failure of state regulations here, expressed skepticism about the law's cost estimates here, and looked at the dire fiscal effects of state coverage expansions here.