The low cost of healthcare reform

Compared to how much the GOP lightened our wallets in 2003, "Obamacare" is an unbelievable bargain


Andrew Leonard
March 10, 2010 1:10AM (UTC)

David Cutler, while defending Obama's health care reform proposal in the Wall Street Journal today, writes that "the reforms will save nearly $600 billion over the next decade and even more in the subsequent one."

Cutler was Obama's health care adviser during the presidential campaign, so it is not inappropriate to be skeptical of his optimism. He forthrightly notes that the Congressional Budget Office disagrees, that it has "consistently estimated that policies built around changing incentives and thus encouraging more efficient care will not have any effect on cost trends." And he admits that "no one knows precisely how much medical spending increases will moderate," as a result of the reforms.

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But he still maintains that a good faith effort is being made to deal with the scary long-term budget implications of rising health care costs.

And this never gets old: Compare the numbers on Obama's health care reform proposals with the signature Republican health care achievement of the previous administration, the prescription drug benefit known as Medicare Part D.

Menzie Chinn looks through the newly released Financial Report of the United States Government and finds, on page 50, an estimate of how much Medicare Part D will cost over the next 75 years.

"Present value of future expenditures in excess of future revenue:" $7.2 trillion dollars.

Keep that number in mind while reading Ezra Klein's account of the egregiously unethical arm-twisting, bribery, and harassment engaged in by the GOP Congressional leadership to pass Medicare Part D in 2003.


Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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