NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 2, 2009

In a rational political world, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's 1,990-page health care reform bill released last Thursday would have been derailed months ago.  With spending and debt already at record peacetime levels, the bill creates a new and probably unrepealable middle-class entitlement that is designed to expand over time.  Taxes will need to rise precipitously, even as ObamaCare so dramatically expands government control of health care that eventually all medicine will be rationed via politics, says the Wall Street Journal.

The spending surge:

  • The Congressional Budget Office figures the House program will cost $1.055 trillion over a decade, which while far above the $829 billion net cost that Pelosi fed to credulous reporters is still a low-ball estimate.
  • Most of the money goes into government-run "exchanges" where people earning between 150 percent and 400 percent of the poverty level -- that is, up to about $96,000 for a family of four in 2016 -- could buy coverage at heavily subsidized rates, tied to income.
  • The government would pay for 93 percent of insurance costs for a family making $42,000, 72 percent for another making $78,000, and so forth.

At least at first, these benefits would be offered only to those whose employers don't provide insurance or work for small businesses with 100 or fewer workers.  The taxpayer costs would be far higher if not for this "firewall" -- which is sure to cave in when people see the deal their neighbors are getting on "free" health care.   Pelosi knows this, like everyone else in Washington, says the Journal.

Even so, the House disguises hundreds of billions of dollars in additional costs with budget gimmicks, says the Journal:

  • It "pays for" about six years of program with a decade of revenue, with the heaviest costs concentrated in the second five years.
  • The House also pretends Medicare payments to doctors will be cut by 21.5 percent next year and deeper after that, "saving" about $250 billion.
  • ObamaCare will be lucky to cost under $2 trillion over 10 years; it will grow more after that.

Source: Editorial, "The Worst Bill Ever," Wall Street Journal, November 2, 2009.

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