This afternoon, the Associated Press reports ominously: “A new government estimate finds that the nation’s health care tab — already the biggest of any advanced country — would increase even more under health care overhaul legislation in the House.”
And it’s true. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has found that the version of House legislation passed by the Ways and Means Committee would cause national health care expenditures to grow. So naturally, the GOP is jumping all over it.
“The American people have never fallen for the Democrat spin that a government takeover of health care would lower costs,” said Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), chair of the Republican Study Committee.
Now, the Obama administration has confirmed that the Democrat plan would actually grow the slice of the pie consisting of American health care spending. With the country already struggling under the flawed economic policies of this administration, the last thing we need is to strain Americans’ ability to pay for their health care.
With the administration affirming that H.R. 3200 is bad medicine for the American economy, I hope House Democrats will take heed and pursue a different approach to reform. It’s time for Speaker Pelosi to toss this costly legislation and start over with bipartisan ideas that empower patients to control their own health care decisions.
So, obviously, there are a number of caveats.First, this conclusion isn’t new: It meshes with the CBO’s earlier findings regarding the original House health care proposal. It was bad political news then, and it’s remained a tough obstacle for House principals ever since, particularly given that the Senate Finance Committee bill’s main selling point is that it reduces the deficit and “bends the curve” of health care spending.
Second, the CMS report comes with three pages of caveats suggesting their estimate could be significantly off the mark.
Third, and most importantly, the report addresses legislation that doesn’t really exist anymore. The House bill, as passed by both the Ways and Means Committee and two others, has changed in a number of ways, many of which remain unclear. For example, it’s now over $100 billion cheaper than it was when it passed through committee. A new CBO analysis should be available soon, and will likely weigh in on whether the much-changed bill remains unlikely to bend the curve. But until then, this report, like the CBO’s initial analysis of the House bill is out of date.
Either way, though, expect this message–that the Obama administration is criticizing its own proposal–to be on the lips of Republican electeds, particularly in the House.