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CBO raises cost estimate for health reform, sparking political reaction

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Health care reform

CBO raises cost estimate for health reform, sparking political reaction

The Associated Press: "President Barack Obama's new health care law could potentially add at least $115 billion more to government health care spending over the next 10 years, congressional budget referees said Tuesday," to beyond $1 trillion. "The Congressional Budget Office said the added spending includes $10 billion to $20 billion in administrative costs to federal agencies carrying out the law, as well as $34 billion for community health centers and $39 billion for Indian health care" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 5/11).

Politico: "Republicans pounced on the news, which they called another sign that the Obama administration makes promises it cannot deliver."  House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said: "It was clearly irresponsible for Washington Democrats to force this legislation through Congress without being truthful about its full impact on the nation’s finances. Republicans are fighting to repeal this job-killing health care law and replace it with reforms focused first on lowering costs and protecting American jobs."

Politico notes that "a Democratic leadership aide on Capitol Hill said the Congress will have to stay within the budget. 'Just like other authorized programs, the discretionary programs in health reform will need to compete for funds within set budgetary limits,' the aide said"  (Haberkorn, 5/11). 

The Hill: A White House spokesperson said the health overhaul "will reduce the deficit by more than $100 billion in the first decade, and that will not change unless Congress acts to change it. … The President has called for a non-security discretionary spending freeze, and he will enforce that with his veto pen." The Hill adds, "The new score builds upon a previous CBO estimate, released in March, that found that specified authorizations, for spending subject to appropriation, totaled $55.5 billion for 2010-2014" (Pecquet, 5/11). 

CNN: Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee requested the new estimate. "Douglas Elmendorf, the CBO director, said the latest report 'updates and expands' on the previous report. He noted that assessing effects on discretionary spending was speculative because such appropriations require congressional action, and could be larger or smaller than initially anticipated" (5/11).

Modern Healthcare: "In its latest projection, however, the CBO included provisions that were not factored in a previous estimate released in March. For instance, the CBO added costs for Indian healthcare and for provisions in the law that build on funding from programs already in existence. The agency also included funding for the National Health Service Corps, which it inadvertently left out" (DoBias, 5/11).

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent news service. It is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-care-policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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