Report: Health Reform Will Cover More People, Cost More Than Orginally Projected
The Associated Press reports that "Economic experts at the Health and Human Services Department concluded in a report issued Thursday that the health care remake will achieve Obama's aim of expanding health insurance - adding 34 million to the coverage rolls. But the analysis also found that the law falls short of the president's twin goal of controlling runaway costs, raising projected spending by about 1 percent over 10 years."
The report also warns that Medicare cuts could drive 15 percent of hospitals into debt and as many as 50 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees out of the the plans. "... some of the cost-control measures in the bill - Medicare cuts, a tax on high-cost insurance and a commission to seek ongoing Medicare savings - could help reduce the rate of cost increases beyond 2020. But it held out little hope for progress in the first decade" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 4/23).
The Hill: The report - from CMS actuary Richard Foster - says the "new healthcare reform law would cost $828 billion over the next decade while saving $577 billion." Foster said, however, that the projections don't take into account changes to the tax code that were enacted including a tax on high-cost - so-called "Cadillac" - insurance plans. "Foster informed lawmakers that his office needed time to assess the law, and was unable to complete its analysis by the time Congress voted on the bill. Congress is bound by numbers released by CBO, which released its cost estimates before the final House and Senate votes" (Cusack, 4/22).
Los Angeles Times: The health overhaul could result in lower Medicare premiums for seniors and a more sustainable Medicare program. "The analysis, the first since Obama signed the law last month, suggests that the Medicare program will remain viable until 2029 longer than some earlier projections. Before passage of the healthcare overhaul, Medicare had been projected to slip into the red in 2017" (Levey, 4/22).
The New York Times: "Mr. Foster said these savings assume that the law will be carried out as written, and that may be an unrealistic assumption. The cuts, he said, 'could become unsustainable' because they may drive some hospitals and nursing homes into the red, 'possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries.' Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform, said that fear was unfounded."
"Mr. Foster's report, which analyzes the effect of the law on national health spending of all types, has a different focus from studies by the Congressional Budget Office, which concentrated on federal spending and revenues and concluded that the law would reduce budget deficits by a total of $143 billion over 10 years" (Pear, 4/23).
CBS News: Republicans said "the findings validate their concerns about Obama's 10-year, nearly $1 trillion plan to remake the nation's health care system." Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement, however, that "'[t]he analysis by the independent Office of the Actuary reaffirms what the Congressional Budget Office has already said: the Affordable Care Act will cover more Americans and strengthen Medicare by cracking down on waste fraud and abuse, modernizing payment systems and improving benefits by providing free preventive services, supporting innovations that help control chronic disease and closing the prescription drug donut hole'" (Maer, 4/23).