Last month the CBO — Congress’ official budget scorekeeper — updated its forecast for ObamaCare’s price tag. Instead of $931 billion over seven years, the CBO now says it will cost $971 billion to pay for higher Medicaid costs, subsidies, tax credits and the rest — a $40 billion increase.
At the same time, the CBO now says ObamaCare’s new taxes — the penalties for not buying coverage, taxes on high-cost plans, and so on — will be $24 billion higher than it projected last March.
Of course, to Washington, these extra taxes are a good thing since they bring the government’s “net cost” down. But to the rest of us, it looks like the price of ObamaCare just went up by $64 billion.
The media’s response has been a collective yawn. The Washington Post, one of the few publications that even mentioned the change, airily dismissed it as little more than “rounding errors” due to “technical factors.”
Unfortunately, little changes mean a lot. And costs are almost certain to be far higher than even the new CBO forecasts suggest, once the reform’s vast and complex network of mandates, subsidies and regulations fully kicks in over the next three years.
After all, the real-world results of ObamaCare are starting to emerge, and they’re not pretty.
The plan’s high-risk pools, for example, have been a bust. Instead of the 375,000 enrollees the administration expected, just 12,000 signed up.
Even so, the pools are proving expensive. As the Washington Post reported in December, while only 80 signed up for New Hampshire’s high-risk pool, the state had already spent twice the $650,000 it was allotted.
Meanwhile, the administration has been forced to hand out more than 1,168 waivers to companies, unions and other groups — covering more than 2.9 million workers — who complained they would have to either hike premiums sharply, or drop coverage altogether.
And ObamaCare is already pushing up the cost of private insurance. Last fall, Hewitt Associates and Mercer both said reform was contributing to premium hikes this year. Even the AARP — an ardent backer of reform — told its own employees that ObamaCare was partly to blame for the rise in its insurance costs.
None of this was predicted by ObamaCare’s backers, but it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone else. After all, the cost of new government health care programs has consistently blown past initial forecasts.
In its very first year of operation, for example, Medicare’s price tag was 50% higher than predicted, and by 1969 lawmakers were already holding hearings on Medicare’s “costly problems.” Six years after President Bush signed the Medicare drug benefit into law, costs were running $20 billion higher than CBO projections. And RomneyCare in Massachusetts cost a third more than initially forecast just two years after enactment .
We already knew the country was sold a bill of goods with ObamaCare. Now we’re starting to see just how big that bill actually will be.
San Diego Tea Party