Republicans plan to follow through on attempts to repeal ObamaCare, aka the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Democrats and their allied media have stepped up to the plate to defend a bill most of them haven’t read, and their primary defense of the bill is that repealing it will increase the deficit. CNN’s header left no room for debate—“Analysis: Healthcare repeal will cost $230 billion.”
Fact is Democrats and allied media are misleading the public by citing that figure and have conveniently left out numerous cautions and even disclaimers the Congressional Budget Office included in a Jan. 6, 2011 letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner.
The first caution is in the 3rd paragraph of a 10-page letter from the CBO director: “CBO has not developed a detailed estimate of the budgetary impact of repealing that legislation…”
The figures CBO did analyze and project are not static. ObamaCare proponents rely heavily on cost-savings (cuts to Medicare) and revenue for any potential savings. CBO director Douglas W. Elmendorf said in his letter, “Subsequent legislation has already modified the laws enacted last March. Specifically, the Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-309) increased the amount that could be recovered from enrollees in insurance exchanges whose actual income in a year differed from the figure used to determine their tax credit for health insurance premiums. That legislation was estimated to reduce net federal payments for subsidies through the health insurance exchanges.”
The letter provides extensive pro and con talking points and the $230 billion figure is fluid. The projections can go up or down.
The most telling statement Elmendorf makes is a near-total disclaimer. He wrote, “We cannot predict whether those changes will increase or decrease the estimated impact of H.R. 2 on federal deficits.” Elmendorf wrote that in part as commentary on the “reduction brought about by the Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010 in the estimated cost of subsidies to be provided through the insurance exchanges through 2019.”
Elmendorf also said the projections “do not include any savings associated with lower discretionary spending under H.R. 2.” It’s likely the ObamaCare cost projections don’t include the costs of hiring more IRS personnel—direct salaries, pensions, healthcare. It is also likely no fraud factor is included and there will be fraud because of the lax reporting requirements for enrollees as written in the original bill.
Those who wish to be informed accurately should read Elmendorf’s letter. Apparently Democrat ObamaCare enthusiasts and their allied media were unable to make it through the complete document.
Elmendorf certainly wanted to hedge CBO bets. He wrote, “The projections of the bill’s impact are quite uncertain, both because CBO has not completed a detailed estimate of the effects of H.R. 2 and because assessing the effects of making broad changes in the nation’s healthcare and health insurance systems—or of reversing scheduled changes—requires assumptions about a broad array of technical, behavioral, and economic factors.”
The crowning passage in Elmendorf’s letter is on page 6 where he states, “As a result, CBO believes that its estimates of the net budgetary effects of healthcare legislation have a roughly equal chance of turning out to be too high or too low.”
Slanted coverage of this issue and skewing a message to benefit the Democrat party point to a serious lack of accountability on the parts of national branded media professionals who present themselves as reporters rather than pundits.
(Analysis by Kay B. Day/Jan. 6, 2011)
The Daily Caller and The Heritage Foundation point out more flaws in the $230 billion-increase-in-deficit claims with the article, Heritage: Take CBO report with a grain of salt.