CBO: Healthcare Law To Cost Less, Cover Fewer People.
The Hill (3/14, Pecquet) reports in its “Healthwatch” blog that a revised CBO estimate released Tuesday says the healthcare reform law coverage provisions “will cost less but cover fewer people than first thought.” The estimate “shows about 2 million fewer people gaining coverage by 2016, reducing the number of uninsured Americans by 30 million instead of the 32 million projected a year ago. That would leave about 27 million people uninsured in 2016, two years after the law’s insurance exchanges go online.” In addition, the coverage provisions “are now expected to cost $1.083 trillion over the next 10 years, $50 billion less than the $1.131 trillion projected last year.”
Politico (3/14, Rogers) reports, “The uptick in healthcare costs is largely attributed by CBO to the slow economic recovery. And while the deficit doesn’t suffer as a result, the numbers suggest that the level of coverage achieved will be less than once hoped.”
CQ (3/14, Ethridge, Subscription Publication) reports, “Expectations of where people will get insurance have also changed. The CBO said it now expects more people to obtain coverage through Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program or non-group arrangements, while fewer will be insured through employers or insurance exchanges.” The National Journal (3/14, O’Donnell, Subscription Publication), the Washington Times (3/14, Cunningham) “Inside Politics” blog, Reuters (3/14, Lawder), Modern Healthcare (3/14, Zigmond, Subscription Publication), and CNNMoney (3/14, Sahadi) also report this story.
Sebelius, Johnson Budget Discussion Detailed. The Washington Post (3/14, Kessler), in its “Fact Checker” blog, cites an exchange between HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) during a congressional hearing on March 7, where they discussed budget numbers. “Secretary Sebelius certainly appears to be a bit clueless as Johnson tosses a bunch of numbers at her, clearly trying to show that the Obama health care law is now projected to show a deficit. But he gets his own facts and figures mixed up.” Kessler concludes that “Johnson’s main goal-to keep track of the course of the health care bill and monitor whether estimates are veering off track-is to be applauded. … But in the future Johnson should be careful to keep his facts and numbers straight-just as administration officials should be prepared to answer his questions.”
Professor Says Healthcare Law Won’t Produce Promised Cost Reductions. In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal (3/14, Subscription Publication), Daniel P. Kessler, a professor of business and law at Stanford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, writes that three of the healthcare law’s main cost-control measures are unlikely to succeed. Kessler notes that neither the Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) nor the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) have resulted in the improved efficiency that was promised. Likewise, Kessler says a close examination of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) suggests it will be ineffective. Finally, Kessler notes that although the law required that health coverage sold in insurance exchanges must cover “essential health benefits,” a December 2011 administration bulletin allows states to determine what those “essential benefits” are. Kessler concludes by saying voters should be skeptical of election-year promises about the law lowering the cost of healthcare.