CBO Head Says…
"Instead of saving the federal government from fiscal catastrophe, the health reform measures being drafted by congressional Democrats would increase rather than reduce public spending on health care, potentially worsening an already bleak budget outlook, the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said this morning," the Washington Post reports. "[T]he reform measures put forth so far would not fulfill their pledge to 'bend the cost curve' downward, Elmendorf said. Instead, he said, 'The curve is being raised.'" To "slow the growth in federal health spending, Elmendorf urged lawmakers to end or limit the tax-free treatment of employer-provided health benefits" and change "the way Medicare reimburses providers to create incentives for reducing costs."
"Elmendorf's stark testimony is certain to undermine support for the measures even as three House panels begin debate and aim to put a bill on the House floor before the August recess. Fiscal conservatives in the House, known as the Blue Dogs, were already threatening to block passage of legislation in the Energy and Commerce Committee, primarily due to concerns about the long-term costs of the House bill" (Montgomery, 7/16).
CQ Politics: "The Democrats and President Obama have cited two goals in their overhaul proposals - expanding coverage to the estimated 47 million Americans who currently lack it and bringing down long-term costs because the growth in Medicare and Medicaid spending threatens to swamp the federal budget in coming years. Under questioning from Chairman Kent Conrad , D-N.D., Elmendorf told the Senate Budget Committee that the congressional proposals released so far do not meet that second test" (Clarke and Epstein, 7/16).
Wall Street Journal: Top Democrats in the Senate were quick to criticize Elmendorf's statements. "Asked about the assessment, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), quipped that Mr. Elmendorf should consider running for Congress" (Boles, 7/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.