Friday, July 29, 2011

Perhaps not so affordable after all

We pretty much knew it all along but it was just us right-wing pitch fork wielders that were openly questioning the President's claim that ObamaCare, his signature piece of legislation, would bend the health care cost curve downward. Now, Obama's own actuarians in the CMS are saying that health care costs will be slightly more under ObamaCare than if the law were not enacted.

The Affordable Care Act will drive health care spending up slightly, to nearly a fifth of the country’s gross domestic product by 2020, while extending insurance coverage to 30 million more Americans, a new report from CMS projects.

But health care’s hefty share of the country’s economic output is reached through an average annual growth in medical spending of 5.8 percent over the next decade — just 0.1 percent more than would have been spent without the health reform law, the report claims.

CMS published its findings this morning in Health Affairs. The report also projects that once all the data are in, health spending in 2010 will have grown a historically low 3.9 percent — slightly lower than the previous record low growth of 4 percent in 2009.

That’s an aftershock of the recession, which cost millions of people their jobs and, consequently, their health insurance, slowing medical spending.

At a Health Affairs forum Wednesday, CMS chief actuary Rick Foster, who has a record of questioning long-range spending projections based on overly optimistic assumptions, nonetheless said that “we like to think that the reality in 2014 will be much closer to the projections” than similar projections from the past.

If implemented as written, the health care law will “create a whole new world of health care spending,” Foster said.

Still, there are plenty of caveats. For one, the report assumes that physician payments next year will be cut by almost 30 percent in accordance with the Sustainable Growth Rate formula, even though Congress has blocked the cuts for the past 10 years.

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Foster said that the report also includes productivity improvements that would slow the growth of spending by 1.1 percent each year, a pace that, “in the long run, it may be difficult to sustain.” He added that revenue projections for an excise tax on exceptionally generous employer-offered health plans, slated to take effect in 2018, may be lower than expected.
(italics, ours)

Not painting such a rosy picture now, is it?

The CMS report can be found here.

And that's it. After all that. After all the arm-twisting and back room deal-making. After all the kickbacks, sweetheart deals and horse-trading. After an exhaustive and contentious sausage-making ordeal that was the very antithesis of the Hope and Change he promised to bring to Washington D.C. and which cost him considerable political capitol of his own, the damn thing, by his people's own admission won't bring down the cost of health care as he promised.

1 comment:

Harrison said...

My coverage went up about $100 per month for the SAME plan. But the rep told me: "Look at all this free stuff you're getting now." Yeah, I won't be needing an annual pap smear thank you.