This is misleading at best. According to the CBO letter
on the subject:
The potential discretionary costs identified in both CBO’s earlier analysis and the letters provided on May 11 include many items whose funding would be a continuation of recent funding levels for health-related programs or that were previously authorized and that PPACA would authorize for future years. Some of those items include:
- Section 3129 – Extension of Medicare rural hospital flexibility program ($0.1 billion over the 2010–2019 period)
- Section 5207 – Funding for the National Health Service Corp ($9.1 billion over the 2010–2019 period)
- Section 5312 – Funding for Parts B-D of Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act (relating to nursing workforce development) ($2.7 billion over the 2010–2019 period)
- Section 5401 – Centers of Excellence ($0.5 billion over the 2010–2019 period)
- Section 5402 – Scholarships, loans and educational assistance relating to students from disadvantaged backgrounds ($0.6 billion over the 2010–2019 period)
- Section 5601 – Federally qualified health center grants ($33.6 billion over the 2010–2019 period)
- Section 5603 – Wakefield emergency medical services program ($0.1 billion over the 2010–2019 period)
- Section 10221 – Indian health improvement act ($39.2 billion over the 2010–2019 period)
- Section 10412 -- Automated defibrillation ($0.25 billion over the 2010–2019 period)
CBO estimates that the amounts authorized for these items exceed $86 billion over the 10-year period (out of the roughly $105 billion total shown in the table that was provided along with the May 11 letter). Thus, CBO’s discretionary baseline, which assumes that 2010 appropriations are extended with adjustments for anticipated inflation, already accounts for much of the potential discretionary spending under PPACA.
In addition, there are a number of other items that could overlap some or even by a considerable amount with current law activities assumed in CBO’s baseline. Title V of PPACA includes many of those items. For example, section 5210 and sections 5301-5303 of PPACA replace provisions of prior law with new provisions offering a great deal more detail. The May 11 letter addresses these potential sources of overlap. The last paragraph on page 3 of that letter states: “Although Tables 1 and 2 provide more information about the discretionary costs associated with PPACA, they do not represent all of the potential budgetary implications of changes to existing discretionary programs—including both potential increases and decreases relative to recent appropriations…”
The vast majority of the discretionary spending in that estimate would be occurring in the absence of a reform bill and is not a consequence of reform (to review very briefly, reform consists primarily of: 1) instituting a new regulatory framework on insurance markets, 2) extending subsidization of health insurance to the individual market instead of keeping it confined to the group market, and 3) simplifying and expanding Medicaid eligibility thresholds).
In the same way, updating the SGR formula (which isn't even a provision in the reform bill) is something that will eventually have to be done and exists as an issue independently of any reform plan. If you want to tack that on as a cost of reform, you might as well throw in the additional expenses to the VHA associated with injuries sustained by soldiers in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those costs must somehow be attributable to reform, since we still have to pay for them after the law is implemented, right?
It might be a little more intellectually honest to quote the entire relevant paragraph, which paints a substantially different picture than you imply it does:
Employer-sponsored health insurance has traditionally been the largest source of coverage in the U.S., and we anticipate that it would continue to be so under the PPACA. By 2019, an estimated 13 million workers and family members would become newly covered as a result of additional employers offering health coverage, a greater proportion of workers enrolling in employer plans, and an extension of dependent coverage up to age 26. However, a number of workers who currently have employer coverage would likely become enrolled in the expanded Medicaid program or receive subsidized coverage through the Exchanges. For example, some smaller employers would be inclined to terminate their existing coverage, and companies with low average salaries would find it to their--and their employees'--advantage to end their plans, thereby allowing their workers to qualify for heavily subsidized coverage through the Exchanges. Somewhat similarly, many part-time workers could obtain coverage more inexpensively through the Exchanges or by enrolling in the expanded Medicaid program. Finally, as mentioned previously, the per-worker penalties assessed on nonparticipating employers are relatively low compared to prevailing health insurance costs. As a result, the penalties would not be a substantial deterrent to dropping or forgoing coverage. We estimate that such actions would collectively reduce the number of people with employer-sponsored health coverage by about 14 million, or slightly more than the number newly covered through existing and new employer plans under the PPACA. As indicated in table 2, the total number of persons with employer coverage in 2019 is estimated to be 1 million lower under the reform legislation than under the prior law.
The first thing to note is that a significant fraction of those "losing" employer-sponsored coverage are doing so voluntarily because they're getting a better deal somewhere else. The second thing to note is that the difference between projected employer-sponsored coverage under current law and under reform is 1 million
, not 14 million. The CMS Actuary projects that 165.9 million people would have it under current law but under reform "only" 164.5 million will (by comparison, Census data
tells us that two years ago more than 176 million people had employer-sponsored coverage). Put another way, the bit you selectively quoted might be amended to say reform will "reduce the number of people with employer-sponsored health coverage by 14 million, while current law will reduce the number of people with employer-sponsored health coverage by 13 million
" if you wanted to give an accurate picture of the projections.
It's also worth considering what "if you like your coverage, you can keep it" means
“When I say if you have your plan and you like it,…or you have a doctor and you like your doctor, that you don't have to change plans, what I'm saying is the government is not going to make you change plans under health reform,” the President said.
Now that's confusing, because I
thought that phrase meant that if I like my doctor and he's set to retire, the government will step in and forbid him from retiring so that I can keep going to him. Ditto for employers voluntarily altering coverage offerings. I mean, that just makes sense, right? Now I find out this law doesn't strip doctors and employers of free will. What other
surprises are lurking in there?!
This is false. What does the report actually say?
The Medicare, Medicaid, growth-trend, CLASS, and immediate reform provisions are estimated to result in net savings of $577 billion, leaving a net overall cost for this period of $251 billion before consideration of additional Federal administrative expenses and the increase in Federal revenues that would result from the excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health insurance coverage and other revenue provisions. [...] The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation have estimated that the total net amount of Medicare savings and additional tax and other revenues would somewhat more than offset the cost of the national coverage provisions, resulting in an overall reduction in the Federal deficit through 2019.
So, yes, the CMS Actuary foresees a net $251 billion increase in federal expenditures. But that doesn't "confirm increased deficits" because there are revenue streams in the bill, which the Actuary reminds us JCT has forecast will bring in enough money to pay for that additional spending.