By: Jeffrey Klein
Political Buzz Examiner
A newly released 52-page report, analyzing the assumptions and pro forma estimates of Obamacare, supports the long held GOP contention that government healthcare costs cannot decrease, if 15 to 35 million new people are added to the rolls, according to a FOXNews article today.
Charles Blahous, a leading conservative economist and former Bush appointee, who serves as the [independent] public trustee overseeing Medicare and Social Security finances, analyzed Obamacare, and found that it will add at least $340 billion to the national deficit–citing federal accounting practices that have obscured the true fiscal impact of ObamaCare.
“Taken as a whole, the enactment of the [health care law] has substantially worsened a dire federal fiscal outlook … The [law] both increases a federal commitment to healthcare spending that was already unsustainable under prior law, and would exacerbate projected federal deficits relative to prior law.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the administration does “not agree with the faulty analysis of a Bush administration national economic council member.”
“We would point to the official estimates by the (Congressional Budget Office) as well as the (Office of Budget Management) that state clearly the Affordable Care Act would reduce the deficit over the first 10 years and dramatically over the next 10 years,” Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Florida.
“This is obviously a partisan analysis that does not comport with the official presentations.”
“It certainly has not changed (the president’s) opinion and his disagreement with this individual on the need to privatize Social Security, which this individual supports.”
“So, it’s faulty economic analysis,” Carney concluded.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the government’s non-partisan fiscal umpire, said in an estimate last year that repealing the law actually would increase deficits by $210 billion from 2012-2021.
Regardless, Blahous pointed to several factors supporting his conclusion.
First, Obamacare had to abandon its’ long-term care, Community Living Assistance, program, and the projected $80 billion in savings, because actuaries discovered an enormous negative variance, which proved that it would have turned into a river of red ink over the long term.
Next, the cost of health insurance subsidies for millions of low and middle class uninsured people could turn out to be higher than forecast, particularly if employers scale back their own coverage.
Finally, various cost control measures, including a tax on high-end insurance plans that doesn’t kick in until 2018, could deliver less than expected.
Now…for the big one.
Under Obamacare, Medicare cut’s [$500 billion] is transferred into Medicaid to pay for the expansion of uninsured coverage outlined above–but, it is also simultaneously credited as savings to the [Medicare] trust fund.
The CBO and Medicare’s own economic estimators already said the government can’t spend the same money twice.
The White House said 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.”
This is absolutely false.
Just over a year ago, on Wednesday, March 3, 2011, in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce-Health Subcommittee, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was cornered on this very issue by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), according to Amanda Carey’s reporting in her March 4, 2011 Daily Caller article.
Q.: “There is an issue here on the budget, because your own actuary has said you can’t double-count,” said Shimkus. “You can’t count — they’re attacking Medicare on the CR when their bill, your law, cut $500 billion from Medicare.”
“Then you’re also using the same $500 billion to what? Say your funding health care. Your own actuary says you can’t do both. […] What’s the $500 billion in cuts for?”
“Preserving Medicare or funding the health-care law?”
A.: Sebelius’ reply? “Both.”
The Obama administration and HHS had been admonished by the CBO, which released a memo stating that HHS’s math was more than a little off.
“[…] They cannot be set aside to pay for future Medicare spending and, at the same time, pay for current spending on other parts of the legislation or on other programs … To describe the full amount of HI trust fund savings as both improving the government’s ability to pay future Medicare benefits and financing new spending outside of Medicare would essentially double-count a large share of those savings.”
So, to sum it up, beginning with the “claimed” $210 billion in savings, then subtracting the $80 billion from the abandoned program, reduces savings to $130 billion; and, when you deduct the superfluous $500 billion from the double counting, the budget deficit increases by $370 billion.
As the former 6-year Governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebellius knows budgeting at this level, and the fallacy of the double counting, but she chose to compromise her integrity anyway.
Press Secretary Jay Carney and Presidential Advisor Jeanne Lambrew are different, they knew when they took their jobs that they had sold their integrity to the White House.
But, because it is so well known that Barack Obama surrounds himself with such surrogates, in order to protect himself from direct blame for anything–a large portion of the American people has now come to expect these instant, feckless responses from “the White House.”
However, they have also come to know better than to believe any of them.