Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Health Care: A $4 Trillion Dollar Lie?

I think Obama's original sound-bite of "nationalizing health care will save us money" has gone off the rails a bit, now that numerous groups have released cost-estimates:

Negotiations were roiled Monday by an analysis from the Congressional Budget Office that said Kennedy's bill would cost about $1 trillion over 10 years but leave 37 million people uninsured, compared with 50 million who are uninsured now.

And on Tuesday a cost estimate for the Finance Committee bill became public: $1.6 trillion. Senators quickly huddled on ways to bring down costs, with Baucus insisting the final price tag on the Finance Committee bill would be around $1 trillion.

At the Senate Health panel, officials said that after penciling in subsidies for families with incomes as high as $110,000, or 500 percent of the federal poverty level, they would limit the help to families up to $88,000 in income, or 400 percent of the poverty level.

Well, that's a good way to bring down costs - continue the class warfare that Barack Obama has ignited. But it may take more than having the upper middle class subsidize the lower middle class, as it looks as if even the $1 - $1.6 trillion dollar price tag may be a lowball estimate:

....a more comprehensive analysis of the legislation will only serve to drive the bill's ultimate cost higher. For instance, because it was only working with a draft of the bill that had holes in it, the CBO did not estimate the costs associated with increasing Medicaid elgibility to 150 percent of the poverty level, or the full cost of providing subsidies to individuals with incomes at up to 500 percent of the poverty level to purchase insurance through state-run exchanges. Once this is taken into account, liberals are right that the final CBO estimate will reflect more people being insured, but the cost of the legislation will go up as well.

Health Systems Innovations Network, a consulting group, went ahead and estimated the full cost of a bill that included the subsidies and Medicaid expansion, and reduced the number of uninsured by 99 percent. With these assumptions, they estimated (pdf) the cost at a staggering $4 trillion over 10 years, resulting in the shift of 79 million Americans to government-run health care. The report does not include possible tax increases or spending offsets, but notes that, "this would be a challenging proposal to finance with budget neutrality."

You don't say! And what does our president -the ultimate realist, the quintessential negotiator, the uniter/not the divider, the Man With Moral Standing - have to say about the catastrophic debt load that all parties agree the nation will be burdened with? Same link:

President Obama, in a speech to the American Medical Association on Monday, declared of the price tag of health care legislation: "it is a cost that will not – I repeat, not – add to our deficits."

Uh huh. Maybe ABC News is buying this, but most people with a high-school diploma know better. And it kinda reminds me of this promise Obama made to another interest group:

"The danger from Iran is grave, it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat," Obama said in a speech to the AIPAC conference in Washington..."I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon - everything," he said to a standing ovation....

And once he didn't need the Jew's support? It became this:

"No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons."

Doctors, beware the wolf...

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