Obamacare Could Add $380 Billion To Deficit, New Study Says
The Washington Post reported the study by conservative policy analyst Charles Blahous, who sits on the board that oversees Medicare financing, said the act will add $340 billion to the nation's deficit.
According to the Post's summary, the 2010 law could direct money into the Medicare hospitalization trust fund, and wouldn't be available to actually pay for expanded coverage for the uninsured.
From the Post:
“Does the health-care act worsen the deficit? The answer, I think, is clearly that it does,” Blahous, a senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, said in an interview. “If one asserts that this law extends the solvency of Medicare, then one is affirming that this law adds to the deficit. Because the expansion of the Medicare trust fund and the creation of the new subsidies together create more spending than existed under prior law.”
But the White House stands by the president's plan.
Administration officials dismissed the study, arguing that it departs from bipartisan budget rules used to measure every major deficit-reduction effort for the past four decades — including the blueprint offered last month by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
“Opponents of reform are using ‘new math’ while they attempt to refight the political battles of the past,” a White House budget official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the report was not publicly available. “The fact of the matter is, the Congressional Budget Office and independent experts concluded that the health-reform law will reduce the deficit. That was true the day the bill was signed into law, and it’s true today.”
Blahous acknowledged that his analysis departs from budget conventions, which, he said, make sense for the most part. He said that in this case, however, those rules do not fully illuminate the financial impact of the health-care law, since they permit what conservative critics have dubbed a “double counting” of proposed Medicare savings.
The analyst said he arrived at his $340 billion estimate by updating numbers provided by CBO and Medicare actuaries, extending the time frame through 2021 and removing the savings that would have come from the CLASS Act. The Obama administration suspended that part of the law last year, saying it was unworkable. It would have generated nearly $86 billion in revenue.
Blahous said his analysis was more than just nitpicking. "It's essential," he said, "that there be a full public understanding of the most economically significant federal law in years."