Ouch! CBO says Dem healthcare plan worsens budget picture

July 16, 2009

Is history repeating itself?  High-cost estimates by the Congressional Budget Office helped kill Clintoncare back in the 1990s. Now here is what Doug Elmendorf of the CBO said today about Obamacare:

In the legislation that has been reported we do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount.  And on the contrary, the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health care costs. …  the creation of a new subsidy for health insurance, which is a critical part of expanding health insurance coverage in our judgement, would by itself increase the federal responsibility for health care that raises federal spending on health care.  It raises the amount of activity that is growing at this unsustainable rate and to offset that there has to be very substantial reductions in other parts of the federal commitment to health care, either on the tax revenue side through changes in the tax exclusion or on the spending side through reforms in Medicare and Medicaid.  Certainly reforms of that sort are included in some of the packages, and we are still analyzing the reforms in the House package.  Legislation was only released as you know two days ago.  But changes we have looked at so far do not represent the fundamental change on the order of magnitude that would be necessary to offset the direct increase in federal health costs from the insurance coverage proposals.

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