Senator John ThuneWhen President Obama and Congressional Democrats were trying to sell a skeptical American public on their health care overhaul bill, they frequently claimed that their proposals would cut health care costs and reduce our exploding national debt. There was plenty of evidence to the contrary at the time, but now it is becoming even clearer that the health care overhaul will cost a great deal more than advertised. The new budget calculations raise serious questions about the effectiveness of the new law as the Obama administration works to implement it.
Earlier this month, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report that estimates that the actual cost of the health care reform will be about $115 billion more over the next 10 years than the bill’s supporters claimed prior to it becoming law. This adjustment puts the total cost of the bill over $1 trillion before we even consider the interest payments on the money that has to be borrowed to fund this new government program. A portion of the new spending stems from costs the Internal Revenue Service will have to take on to collect the new taxes that the law creates.
CBO is not the only government agency that is warning of higher costs resulting from the implementation of the bill. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is an agency within the Obama administration’s Health and Human Services Department, recently released a report that predicts increased health care costs, increased federal spending, higher insurance premiums, and less access to care for seniors as a result of this new law. The report claims that national health care expenditures will increase under the new law even more than would have happened if Congress had done nothing. In other words, doing nothing would have been better than the approach taken by President Obama and Congressional Democrats.
Under the health insurance mandate, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services report also concludes that 14 million people will lose the health care coverage provided by their employers. In fact, we are already hearing companies openly discussing dropping employee health plans in favor of paying a small fine for not providing coverage. This is a stark contrast to the claim made by the President and many members of Congress that anyone who is happy with the health insurance they currently have would be able to keep it.
During the Senate’s health care debate I frequently heard from South Dakotans about their well-founded concerns over the cost of the legislation. Congressional Democrats went to great lengths to push a bill through Congress and to the President’s desk while many of the details were still largely unknown to the public and to many of the members who voted for the bill. Now that the legislation’s true costs are coming to light, more and more Americans are concerned about what the health care bill means to their own insurance coverage and rates, as well as to our already soaring debt. As the debt from the bill continues to pile up, South Dakotans should demand that the issue of health care reform be readdressed in a way that actually brings costs down, not sends them up.