18 March 2010

Health Care Reform To Cost $940 Billion. Or Does It? Costs Skewed To Reduce Estimate

WSJ: Health Overhaul to Cost $940 Billion Over Decade

The latest version of the Democrats' health overhaul will cost $940 billion over a decade and expand insurance coverage to 32 million Americans, according to a Congressional Budget Office report cited Thursday by Democratic aides.

After appearing in peril just weeks ago, Thursday's developments showed how the health overhaul has gained significant momentum in recent days. Democratic leaders and the White House plan to put heavy pressure on wavering members over the weekend in a bid for the remaining votes.

The legislation calls for the most significant changes to the health system since the government created the Medicare program for the elderly more than four decades ago. The bill would create a near-universal system of health insurance by giving tax credits to lower earners to offset the cost of buying insurance and expanding the Medicaid federal-state insurance program for the poor.

It would prevent insurers from denying coverage to people because they have a pre-existing health condition and revoking their policies if they became ill. In exchange, nearly all Americans would be required to carry insurance or pay a fine.

Small businesses would get tax credits to help them provide coverage, and large employers would pay a penalty if they didn't provide affordable coverage and their workers obtained a government insurance subsidy.

It wasn't clear whether some of the newest changes sought by the White House will remain in the legislation. The White House is seeking a new federal rate board to regulate insurance premiums. Some Democrats have questioned whether the board would pass muster with the Senate parliamentarian, who must vet the package of changes to make sure they're all related to the federal budget.

Questioning those estimates here: Almost all $940 billion incurred in just six years

This is why they’re delaying the start of the program, of course. If it kicked in right away, the decade-long estimate would obviously be well into the trillions. So they simply stalled it for four years, incurring just $17 billion in costs — or 1.8 percent of the total 10-year estimate — through 2013 so that wavering Democrats could go back to their districts and tell baldfaced lies to their constituents about the pricetag.

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