All the Sunday shows and anti-health care reform members of Congress have jumped on Doug Elmendorf's testimony, but ignored another CBO report. I wonder why?
Not that it matters, since the showboating Senators had to have a dramatic hearing with the CBO chief before the committees were finished and the resultant headlines have been disseminated as if they came down from Mt Sinai, but this was released last night by the From the House Energy, Ways and Means and Education and Labor committees:
For Immediate Release:
July 17, 2009
CBO Scores Confirms Deficit Neutrality of Health Reform Bill
Washington, D.C. -- The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released estimates this evening confirming for the first time that H.R. 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, is deficit neutral over the 10-year budget window – and even produces a $6 billion surplus. CBO estimated more than $550 billion in gross Medicare and Medicaid savings. More importantly, the bill includes a comprehensive array of delivery reforms to set the stage for lowering the future growth in health care costs.
Net Medicare and Medicaid savings of $465 billion, coupled with the $583 billion revenue package reported today by the House Committee on Ways and Means, fully finance the previously estimated $1.042 trillion cost of reform, which will provide affordable health care coverage for 97% of Americans.
"This fulfills the strong commitment of the President and House leadership to enact health reform on a deficit-neutral basis," said Chairman Henry A. Waxman, Chairman Charles B. Rangel, and Chairman George Miller. "The reforms included in this legislation will help control health care costs and expand access to quality, affordable coverage to all Americans in a fiscally-responsible manner."
The estimates also cover important reinvestments in Medicare and Medicaid, including phasing in the closing of the "donut" hole in the Medicare drug benefit. The bill’s long-term reform of Medicare’s physician fee schedule to eliminate the potential 21 percent cut in fees, and put payments on a sustainable basis for the future, will cost about $245 billion. Those costs, however, are not included in the net calculations above, as they will be absorbed under the upcoming statutory "pay go" legislation that is pending in the House.
And Jonathan Cohn makes a great point that I hope Congress reads:
One last point: Do remember that even if reform ends up without game-changing cost control, it may create political conditions that make future cost control more likely. That seems to be happening in Massachusetts, which enacted sweeping coverage expansions a few years ago. Remember, too, even if reform did nothing but guarantee everybody access to care, without bending the curve, it'd still be a pretty big accomplishment.
We're trying to have real change here and all the press and republicans are doing is whipping up the money-fear thingy. But spending billions on two disgraceful wars is just OK. Forget about the balancing act---if it costs a little more, then go for it--full throttle.