Yes, it’s true, Obama lies — The unbending cost curve — Health Care:
An analysis from an objective source — Medicare’s actuary — says ObamaCare will increase costs and relies on projected savings that may be unrealistic. Now isn’t that a surprise?
The Obama administration has been trying hard to find good news in a new report by government experts on the outlook for the health care economy, now at 17% of GDP and continuing to climb.
To HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the analysis confirms that “the Affordable Health Care Act will cover more Americans and strengthen Medicare by cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse.”
More neutral observers will notice that the administration no longer talks about “bending the cost curve” in health care. The analysis released last week by Medicare’s Office of the Actuary tells why. It looks ahead 10 years and reaches two conclusions about the new health care overhaul: More people will be covered, and costs will continue to soar. The cost curve is unbending still.
Chief Actuary Richard Foster pegs ObamaCare’s added costs (that is, beyond what was projected without the overhaul in effect) at $311 billion over 10 years. That’s just under 1% of overall expected health care spending, and administration officials are calling that sum a small price to pay for adding 34 million Americans to public or private insurance rolls.
But the president had set a goal of extending coverage without adding any new cost. More to the point, the problem of runaway costs that plagued the pre-overhaul health care system has not been solved. As Foster points out, much of what ObamaCare proposes to reduce the nation’s health tab, especially in Medicare, is politically unrealistic.
The overhaul projects a net decrease in projected Medicare spending (more accurately, a reduction in future spending increases) of more than $400 billion. But Congress has talked this way before and has been notably timid about pulling the trigger.
Under a 1997 law, for instance, a 21% cut in Medicare reimbursements to physicians was supposed to go into effect on April 1. But Congress two weeks later put the cut on hold as part of a bill to extend unemployment benefits. As usual, mobilized doctors and frightened seniors got their way.
This pattern of avoiding politically difficult spending cuts has been going on pretty much since the start of Medicare. ObamaCare promises that this behavior will somehow change. That would be a miracle, and actuaries tend to stick with more mundane probabilities.