The CBO has issued an analysis of the reform bill, and has put the price tag at $1.5 trillion. TRILLION. 1,500,000,000,000.00. That's a lot of zeroes. And when was the last time the CBO's budget estimate was more than the actual cost of the program? Not only that, but the CBO acknowledged that the $1.5 trillion mark did not include all likely costs.
Basically, they're saying that health care will cost $1.5 trillion only if there are no costs associated with it's management and implementation. Right. But even without factoring in administrative costs, CBO Director Doug Elmendorf called the trajectory of the federal budget "unsustainable." That's right. Unsustainable.
We have not yet estimated the administrative costs to the federal government of implementing the specified policies, nor have we accounted for all of the proposal’s likely effects on spending for other federal programs.
Here's what else you get from this bill:
Under current law, the federal budget is on an unsustainable path, because federal debt will continue to grow much faster than the economy over the long run. Although great uncertainty surrounds long-term fiscal projections, rising costs for health care and the aging of the population will cause federal spending to increase rapidly under any plausible scenario for current law. Unless revenues increase just as rapidly, the rise in spending will produce growing budget deficits. Large budget deficits would reduce national saving, leading to more borrowing from abroad and less domestic investment, which in turn would depress economic growth in the United States. Over time, accumulating debt would cause substantial harm to the economy. The following chart shows our projection of federal debt relative to GDP under the two scenarios we modeled.
Keeping deficits and debt from reaching these levels would require increasing revenues significantly as a share of GDP, decreasing projected spending sharply, or some combination of the two.
Measured relative to GDP, almost all of the projected growth in federal spending other than interest payments on the debt stems from the three largest entitlement programs—Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. For decades, spending on Medicare and Medicaid has been growing faster than the economy. CBO projects that if current laws do not change, federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid combined will grow from roughly 5 percent of GDP today to almost 10 percent by 2035. By 2080, the government would be spending almost as much, as a share of the economy, on just its two major health care programs as it has spent on all of its programs and services in recent years.
- 31 new federal programs, agencies, and commissions to oversee the government-run health insurance regime (meaning 31 new czars).
- A "Health Choices Commissioner" would head the new "Health Choices Administration" (don't get that confused with the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Veterans Health Administration, and the Indian Health Service, all of which have done a bang-up job administering health care.
- A government-run "Public Health Investment Fund" and a "Health Insurance Exchange Trust Fund." Social Security and Medicare should show us how competent government is at managing these trust funds.
- A "Bureau of Health Information" (not to be confused with the already existing National Center for Health Statistics). Michelle Malkin had this to say about the BHI:
Had enough yet? You haven't heard anything, yet. Investors Business Daily reviewed the bill, and it didn't take long for the red flags to go up. Page 16 of the proposed bill contained some language that seemed to provide a provision that would outlaw individual private medical insurance. IBD even sought the help of the House Ways and Means Committee to ensure that their interpretation of the provision was correct. Sadly, it was.
New bureaucracies always have old special interests to appease. The Bureau of Health Information will house its own “Office of Civil Rights” and “Office of Minority Health.” The information czar will be required to collect health statistics in the “primary language” of ethnic minorities – and thus, the need for a new “language demonstration program” to showcase their efforts. Obamacare will also ensure “cultural and linguistics competence training” and establish “a youth public health program to expose and recruit high school students into public health careers.” The government health care juggernaut must be fed and staffed, after all.
Scared yet? Read 1984 by George Orwell, and you really will be.
The provision would indeed outlaw individual private coverage. Under the Orwellian header of "Protecting The Choice To Keep Current Coverage," the "Limitation On New Enrollment" section of the bill clearly states:
"Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law.
So we can all keep our coverage, just as promised — with, of course, exceptions: Those who currently have private individual coverage won't be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers.