CBO Says Baucus Bill Won’t Add To Debt – But It Will Leave 16 Million Uninsured

The Washington Post’s “Capitol Briefing” breathlessly announces:

A health-care reform bill drafted by the Senate Finance Committee would expand health coverage to nearly 30 million Americans who currently lack insurance and would meet President Obama’s goal of reducing the federal budget deficit by 2019, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday.

The bill would cost $829 billion over the next decade, but would more than offset that cost by slicing hundreds of billions from government health programs such as Medicare and by imposing a 40 percent excise tax on high-cost insurance policies starting in 2013.

All told, the package would slice $81 billion from projected budget deficits over the next 10 years, the CBO said, and continue to reduce deficits well into the future.

That, of course means:

And the CBO report lends a huge political boost to the Finance Committee’s work: distinguishing it as the only one of five bills drafted by various congressional committees that meets every important test established by President Obama and key Democratic leaders.

— It would cost less than $900 billion over the next decade;

— It would vastly expand coverage; and

— It would keep Obama’s pledge that health reform will not increase budget deficits by “one dime” now or in the future.

Whooo hooo! Happy days are here again!

A couple of things to remember: In 1967, official estimates said Medicare would cost $12 billion in 1990. The actual price was $110 billion. And it and Medicare now have about 50 trillion in unfunded future obligations. Secondly, the reason it doesn’t add to the deficit is it cuts Medicare and will force businesses to either pay an excise tax or drastically cut benefits for those who have what the elite have determined are “Cadillac” plans. Of course what that means is if you like your plan, you can keep it, but your no longer going to like your plan (because it could cost you up to 40% plus more to maintain that plan).

And then there’s this: I thought the whole stated purpose of this “reform” was to ensure the uninsured were insured. Yet the CBO report says:

By 2019, CBO and JCT estimate, the number of nonelderly people who are uninsured would be reduced by about 29 million, leaving about 25 million nonelderly residents uninsured (about one-third of whom would be unauthorized immigrants).

So 16 million US citizens remain uninsured. But fear not – CBO has figured that into the equation as a revenue raiser:

… penalty payments by uninsured individuals, which would amount to $4 billion;

Not to mention you could be spending a year in jail as well.

And those unfair “Cadillac plans” will add to that revenue stream as well (except, apparently, if it is a union plan):

….penalty payments by employers whose workers received subsidies via the exchanges, which would total $23 billion;

And here’s what to be really careful of when assessing this boondoggle that still leaves people uninsured (but does provide yet another law to put people in jail):

The proposed co-ops had very little effect on the estimates of total enrollment in the exchanges or federal costs because, as they are described in the specifications, they seem unlikely to establish a significant market presence in many areas of the country or to noticeably affect federal subsidy payments. As a result, CBO estimates that of the $6 billion in federal funds that would be made available, about $3 billion would be spent over the 2010—2019 period.

As the CBO once said on its initial scoring, this bill would have to run, unchanged, for 10 years for it to unfold, cost wise, as they’re saying it will unfold. That means co-ops, not the public option.

If the public option is included, all the savings supposedly found in this bill go out the window and costs skyrocket. And Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid say that the final bill will have a public option.

[Crossposted at QandO]

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