This Friday, March 23 is the dubious two-year anniversary of President Obama signing the health care bill into law. In those two years, more information has come to light, unfortunately proving Nancy Pelosi correct when she famously predicted, "we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it." Now, thanks in part to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report, we know more about what's in it: more spending; more taxes; more people added onto the unsustainable Medicaid program; more broken promises. One of the significant concerns echoed by many of my colleagues and me during the health care debate was that the true cost of the bill was shrouded by budget gimmickry. The CBO report unquestionably confirms this to be true.
The problem is that CBO only does ten-year cost projections. Such an approach ignored the fact that many of the bill's costly provisions won't take effect until 2014. As a result, the original projection included only about 6 years' worth of costs over a ten-year span. The updated report now includes the law’s first 9 years of full implementation.
The estimated cost of the bill has nearly doubled, from $940 billion in 2010 to a staggering $1.76 trillion today. Moreover, the report found that Medicaid costs are projected to be $168 billion more than previously thought as additional Americans are forced to join this broken system. This point cannot be overemphasized: for as costly as the health care law seemed two years ago, the report now confirmed it will be almost twice as much. Sadly, the law’s supporters voted for it knowing the full implementation costs were projected at more than $2 trillion, yet they plowed ahead anyway.
The report contains more troubling news. When compared to last year’s report, CBO projects that up to 20 million more working Americans will lose their employer-sponsored health care coverage because of the health care law. In addition, an estimated two million originally expected to gain coverage won’t be insured at all. Additionally, because the law’s individual and employer mandates require them to purchase or offer health insurance, these new numbers mean they’ll be faced with more fines on top of higher taxes, to the tune of at least $351 billion.
As it happens, the Supreme Court is preparing to hear a case on the law's constitutionality later this month, and will likely issue a decision in June. If it deems the individual mandate exceeds Congressional authority and strikes down the entire law, as I believe the court should, the concerns I've outlined above will fortunately never come to fruition. Yet if the law is upheld, we face a long road ahead: for our health care system, their patients, our economy, our national debt, and the prospects for job creation.
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I eagerly await the Supreme Court's decision and hope the next anniversary we mark is that of the law being struck down by the Supreme Court or repealed by Congress.