There is some more bad news for ObamaCare. According to a recently released report from the Government Accounting Office (GAO), the Patient Protect and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) — President Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement — could cost taxpayers dearly in the long-term if cost-savings measures don’t work as intended.
The report, which was requested by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who is the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, explains that the “effect of PPACA on the long-term fiscal outlook depends largely on whether elements designed to control cost growth are sustained.”
“Overall, there was notable improvement in the longer-term outlook after the enactment of PPACA under our Fall 2010 Baseline Extended simulation, which, consistent with federal law at the time the simulation was run, assumed the full implementation and effectiveness of the costcontainment provisions over the entire 75-year simulation period,” noted the GAO. “In contrast, the long-term outlook in the Fall 2010 Alternative simulation worsened slightly compared to our January 2010 simulation. This is largely due to the fact that cost-containment mechanisms specified in PPACA are assumed to phase out over time while the additional costs associated with expanding federal health care coverage remain.”
The baseline scenario is used by the government budget officials to determine the the cost effects of current law. However, the alternative scenario gauges budget implications based on past behavior of Congress, such as its proclivity for bypassing scheduled Medicare payments to doctors (also known as the “doc fix”).
Part of the reasoning for passage of ObamaCare was that it would lower health insurance premiums. During his 2008 campaign, Obama very specifically said, “I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year.”
If it sounds too good to be true; than it probably is. In September, the Kaiser Family Foundation issued a report noting that health insurance premiums had risen by more than $2,300 since 2009.
This isn’t exaclty a shock. Richard Foster, Chief Actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, explained during a 2011 congressional hearing that ObamaCare was unlikely to hold down health care costs. More recently, Jonathan Gruber, the architect of ObamaCare, admitted that the law wouldn’t keep health insurance premiums down.
Here we are at the beginning of 2013 and we’re seeing that health insurance premiums are set to rise — by more than 20% in some cases — yet again:
Health insurance companies across the country are seeking and winning double-digit increases in premiums for some customers, even though one of the biggest objectives of the Obama administration’s health care law was to stem the rapid rise in insurance costs for consumers.
Particularly vulnerable to the high rates are small businesses and people who do not have employer-provided insurance and must buy it on their own.
While many are preoccupied with the presidential race and memes from both sides of the political aisle that have been inserted into national news, the United States’ main entitlement programs — Medicare and Social Security — are falling further into fiscal insolvency, according to reports released by their respective trustees.
James Antle, writing over at The American Spectator, has the story:
In case you missed this bit of [Monday’s] bad news, let me recap: Social Security and Medicare are running combined long-term deficits of $63.3 trillion according to reports released by the retirement programs’ trustees. The Medicare trust fund will be running on empty as of 2024 and Social Security’s fund will be exhausted by 2033, but the reality is much worse: both trust funds may as well be filled with kitty litter.
To cash in the IOUs the feds have stuffed in the two biggest entitlements’ trust funds to maintain the accounting fiction that they are insurance programs rather than intergenerational transfer payments, taxes will have to be raised or other government spending cut unless reforms are passed soon. Both programs for the elderly are already paying out more in benefits than they are collecting in payroll tax revenue.
“In 2011, Social Security’s cost continued to exceed both the program’s tax income and its non-interest income, a trend that the Trustees project to continue throughout the short-range period and beyond,” Social Security’s trustees explained. Although the payroll tax holiday was a factor, the program would have still run deficits without it.
Nancy Pelosi famously said that we needed to pass ObamaCare to find out what was in ObamaCare. They did that. So what do we find out is in the law? Well, it seems that a buttload of people who don’t qualify now can qualify for Medicaid under the new law according to a report by the Associated Press.
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama’s health care law would let several million middle-class people get nearly free insurance meant for the poor, a twist government number crunchers say they discovered only after the complex bill was signed.
The change would affect early retirees: A married couple could have an annual income of about $64,000 and still get Medicaid, said officials who make long-range cost estimates for the Health and Human Services department.
After initially downplaying any concern, the Obama administration said late Tuesday it would look for a fix.
Maybe it’s just me, but perhaps the time to have fixed that was before this thing got crammed down the American People’s throats! Here we are with the budget problems we currently have, and we get a massive expansion of Medicaid and no one noticed? How much of an oops is it going to take here for people to realize there’s a problem with the way we create laws in this country?
The AP report details how this seems to have happened. Basically, today we consider Social Security as income for determining eligibility for Medicaid. Under the new health care law, that no longer is the case. The complexity of the law probably contributed to this going under the radar until just now.
Some news outlets and political commentators and observers noted yesterday in their reporting on Judge Roger Vinson’s opinion on ObamaCare that he delay implementation of the law. As Ilya Shapiro points out, it does seem that Vinson did issue an injunction:
In discussing whether to issue an injunction – a judicial command to do or refrain from doing something — the judge determined that his declaratory judgment in this context was the same as an injunction. That is, a federal court saying that a piece of legislation is unconstitutional is effectively the same as a decision mandating the government to act:
Declaratory judgment is, in a context such as this where federal officers are defendants, the practical equivalent of specific relief such as an injunction … since it must be presumed that federal officers will adhere to the law as declared by the court. [Quoting a D.C. Circuit opinion written by none other than then-Judge Antonin Scalia]
Now, this is can and probably will change when the Obama Administration asks the Eleventh District Court of Appeals in Atlanta to issue a stay.
Other interesting points in Vinson’s decision was his citation of Barack Obama’s opposition to an individual mandate on the campaign trail in 2008:
I note that in 2008, then-Senator Obama supported a health care reform proposal that did not include an individual mandate because he was at that time strongly opposed to the idea, stating that ‘if a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house.
A decision could come as early today by Federal Judge Roger Vinson on the constitutionality of ObamaCare:
A Florida judge could on Monday become the second U.S. judge to declare President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law unconstitutional, in the biggest legal challenge yet to federal authority to enact the law.
The judge, Roger Vinson of the U.S. District Court in Pensacola, Florida, was expected to rule on a lawsuit brought by governors and attorneys general from 26 U.S. states, almost all of whom are Republicans. Obama is a Democrat.
The plaintiffs represent more than half the U.S. states, so the Pensacola case has more prominence than some two dozen lawsuits filed in federal courts over the healthcare law.
No specific time has been given for Vinson’s ruling, which was unlikely to end the legal wrangling over the contentious reform law, which could well reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
But an aide said he was determined to issue his opinion in the course of Monday on the suit filed on March 23, 2010, just hours after Obama signed the reform into law.
Initial reports were that Vinson viewed the law in much the same light that he did back in October, that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. Vinson wondered how far the Commerce Clause could stretch if the federal government could mandate every citizen buy health insurance:
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.
As I noted yesterday, President Barack Obama is misrepresenting the recent report published by Medicare’s trustees in claiming that his health care reform law has made the entitlement program more solvent.
While speaking at the American Enterprise Institute, Richard Foster, the Chief Actuary of Medicare, explained that ObamaCare reduced the payout to providers, including a 30% cut over the next three years, to the point that it’s unlikely that physicians will participate:
Of course, as the Wall Street Journal points out, these cuts will never take place, which is why the Medicare report and the spin by Democrats is bogus.