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Tipsheet

Do They Have It Right This Time?

The CBO is now in the midst of scoring the Democrats' monster of a health care bill. Here's something to keep in mind when their scores come out (Michael Tanner and Chris Edwards
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):
A further concern is that initial cost estimates of federal health programs are usually very optimistic. When Medicare was launched in 1965, Part A was projected to cost $9 billion by 1990, but ended up costing $67 billion. When Medicaid’s special hospitals subsidy was added in 1987, it was supposed to cost $100 million annually, but it already cost $11 billion by 1992. When Medicare’s home care benefit was added in 1988, it was projected to cost $4 billion in 1993, but ended up costing $10 billion. Or consider that when Massachusetts Commonwealth Care was put into place in 2006, it was expected to cost about $725 million annually, but the expected cost for 2009 is now almost $1 billion.
Hiding the true cost of government health care programs has, of course, been a bipartisan affair. President Bush did his best to hide internal estimates of his Medicare Part D program, telling Congress that it would cost $400 billion when official estimates
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revealed it to be north of $500 billion.

In a time of rapidly-mounting government spending and a federal deficit the size of the Grand Canyon, Obama claims that his health care plan will be fully paid for. Is he budgeting for the inevitable cost explosion that seems to have historically accompanied government health care programs?

What is the Democrat response to this? Are there examples out there of government health care programs that have come in under initial estimates? Or does the Left just shrug when confronted with the empirical data and say, "Sure, in the past, the cost of health care programs has been massively underestimated, but don't fret. This time we've got it right."

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