Medicare Chief doubts cost savings from ObamaCare
Throughout the debate on ObamaCare, we were constantly told that law would hold down health care costs and would not force individuals out of their current health insurance plan. Richard Foster, Chief Actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, disputed both notions yesterday before the House Budget Committee:
Two of the central promises of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law are unlikely to be fulfilled, Medicare’s independent economic expert told Congress on Wednesday.
The landmark legislation probably won’t hold costs down, and it won’t let everybody keep their current health insurance if they like it, Chief Actuary Richard Foster told the House Budget Committee. His office is responsible for independent long-range cost estimates.
Foster’s assessment came a day after Obama in his State of the Union message told lawmakers that he’s open to improvements in the law, but unwilling to rehash the health care debate of the past two years. Republicans want to repeal the landmark legislation that provides coverage to more than 30 million people now uninsured, but lack the votes.
Foster was asked by Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., for a simple true or false response on two of the main assertions made by supporters of the law: that it will bring down unsustainable medical costs and will let people keep their current health insurance if they like it.
On the costs issue, “I would say false, more so than true,” Foster responded.
Democrats on the Budget Committee decided to target Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), whom they are trying to paint as the devil because of his Roadmap for America’s Future. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) asked Foster about cost controls in Ryan’s proposal compared to ObamaCare. He likely wasn’t happy with the answer:
Van Hollen pressed Foster on whether Ryan’s plan would work, prompting Foster to point out that one of the biggest problems in health care now is that most new technology that is developed increases costs rather than decreasing it.
“If there’s a way to turn around the mindset for the people who do the research and development … to get them to focus more on cost-reducing tech and less on cost increasing technology, if you can do that then one of biggest components of [increasing costs] turns to your side,” Foster said. “If you can put that pressure on the research and development community, you might have fighting chance of changing the nature of new medical technology in a way that makes lower cost levels possible.”
Ryan used the discussion to educate members on his proposal, showing the side of him that the State of the Union response wasn’t able to capture, though I’d much rather see Medicare be privatized or completely done away with:
By the way, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) introduced legislation in the Senate to repeal ObamaCare with 34 co-sponsors. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is taking steps to force an up or down vote on repeal.