KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Study: Health Law Would Add $340 Billion To Nation’s Deficit

Although the health overhaul is touted by the Democrats as a means to control health care costs, a study by a Republican member of the board that oversees Medicare financing contends that it will add at least $340 billion to the federal deficit.

The Washington Post: Health-Care Law Will Add $340 Billion To Deficit, New Study Finds
President Obama's landmark health-care initiative, long touted as a means to control costs, will actually add more than $340 billion to the nation's budget woes over the next decade, according to a new study by a Republican member of the board that oversees Medicare financing. The study is set to be released Tuesday by Charles Blahous, a conservative policy analyst whom Obama approved in 2010 as the GOP trustee for Medicare and Social Security (Montgomery, 4/9).

Reuters: Obama Healthcare Law Could Sharply Worsen U.S. Deficits: Study
Obama and the Democrats believe the law will control skyrocketing costs and curtail government "red ink." But Blahous, a former economic adviser in the George W. Bush White House, said in his research that the law is expected to boost net federal spending by more than $1.15 trillion and add between $340 billion and $530 billion to deficits between 2012-21 (Crawley, 4/10).

The Associated Press: Study: Obama's Health Care Law Would Raise Deficit
Reigniting a debate about the bottom line for President Barack Obama's health care law, a leading conservative economist estimates in a study to be released Tuesday that the overhaul will add at least $340 billion to the deficit, not reduce it. Charles Blahous, who serves as public trustee overseeing Medicare and Social Security finances, also suggested that federal accounting practices have obscured the true fiscal impact of the legislation, the fate of which is now in the hands of the Supreme Court (Alonso-Zaldivar, 4/10).

Fox News: Study Claims Obama's Health Care Law Would Raise Deficit
However, the White House said Monday that Blahous' "new math" calculations are false, and that the health care law will reduce the deficit by billions. "Claims that the Medicare savings in the ACA have somehow been “double counted” are without merit," Jeanne Lambrew, the Deputy Assistant to the President for Health Policy said in a release, citing the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "Deficit-reduction legislation that includes Medicare provisions has been accounted for in exactly the same way in previous Congresses under both political parties" (4/9).

In other news related to the health law -

Politico Pro: Hospitals Will Try To Stop Cuts If Mandate Falls
In background interviews and in on-the-record statements, hospital lobbyists say they would enlist lawmakers to help them recoup some of the $155 billion in cuts they agreed to if the law fails to deliver on its promise of expanded coverage for all Americans. The major hospital groups ... accepted those cuts during the health reform debate because they believed the legislation would give them more insured customers — enough to make up for the loss. But if the individual mandate gets overturned, their rationale for agreeing to those cuts goes away (DoBias, 4/10).

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