Cost Curve: Federal Study Finds Obamacare Accelerating Health Spending

Posted: Sep 19, 2013 10:26 AM

The federal government's own bookkeepers have once again determined that President Obama's so-called "Affordable" Care Act is driving up overall health spending. In the lead-up to the law's passage, Obama and his Democratic allies promised the American people that the new measure would have the opposite effect, bending down the "cost curve." Not even close:

The nation's health care spending will jump by 6.1 percent next year as the big coverage expansion in President Barack Obama's overhaul kicks in, government experts predicted Wednesday. That's more than 2 percentage points higher than the growth rate forecast for this year, and compares with a growth rate that has hovered under 4 percent, historically low, for the past four years. Much of the increase projected for next year is attributed to the new health care program...Without it, the estimated growth would be 4.5 percent, according to the report Wednesday from Medicare's Office of the Actuary. The findings were published online by the journal Health Affairs.

Re-read the sentence in bold font. Without Obamacare, national health spending would be projected to increase 4.5 percent. Not great, obviously, but comparable to the recent historical average. Now that the law -- again, which was billed as a cost-reduction endeavor -- is going into effect, that number has jumped to over six percent. According to the report, the acceleration is equivalent to a $621 billion jump in cumulative health spending over the next decade, compared to what it would have been in the absence of Obamacare's "affordability." That's a substantial increase over last year's estimate of $478 billion in extra expenditures. The new CMS data layers on top of CBO's latest projections that health costs will explode and "overwhelm" the budget over the next 25 years, further laying waste to the president's assurances. Yet just this week, Obama -- utterly unconcerned with empirical evidence -- pressed ahead with the claim that his law is containing costs:

I addressed his point about "serious evidence" on Tuesday. But in the same clip, he chuckles at fears that premiums would shoot up (hilarious!) and asserts that his law is keeping costs under control. The government's actuaries, and the math, beg to differ. The silver lining is that nobody believes him on this subject anymore; the broken promises have taken their toll. Given the drumbeat of bad news (with apologies to a certain insulated, aloof New York Times columnist) is it any wonder that a solid majority of Americans would prefer to turn back the clock and pretend Obamacare never happened?

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