Obama Says Increased Health Costs Are Factor Of Expanded Coverage
"President Obama on Friday defended the Democrats' healthcare law, saying the enormous expansion of insurance coverage made an increase in healthcare spending inevitable," The Hill reports. "'As a consequence of us getting 30 million additional people healthcare, at the margins that's going to increase our costs - we knew that,' the president told reporters during a White House press conference. 'We didn't think that we were going to cover 30 million people for free.' Obama was responding to questions about new cost projections, crunched by economists at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), revealing the nation's healthcare spending, as a share of the economy, will be 0.3 percentage points higher in 2019 than estimated before the law was passed" (Lillis, 9/10).
But The Associated Press compares his statements to ones he made as Congress was considering the health care legislation. "President Barack Obama told voters repeatedly during the health care debate that the overhaul legislation would bring down fast-rising health care costs and save them money. Now, he's hemming and hawing on that. So far, the law he signed earlier this year hasn't had the desired effect. An analysis from Medicare's Office of the Actuary this week said that the nation's health care tab will go up - not down - through 2019 as a result of Obama's sweeping law, though the increase is modest." The story goes point by point through a number of Obama's statements to see how his rhetoric has evolved. (Werner and Woodward, 9/11).
A Time Magazine blog parses the president's statements differently. "Admittedly it was odd to hear Obama say that the new health coverage would not be 'free,' because in selling his health care plan Obama did tend to describe it as a cost-saver. If you read his words in more context, though, I'm not sure Obama really conceded much on the substance. ... You can read Ezra Klein for the details. ... But it seems that what Obama is trying to say is that his plan will incur short term costs as we add millions to the payroll. But if its structural reforms pan out over the longer term (which is hardly guaranteed) health care will wind up costing the government substantially less--and reduce the deficit as a result. So I'm not sure Obama truly committed the foul that the AP has called here" (Crowley, 9/10).
ABC News provides a transcript of the question and answer from the press conference.