The ship is taking on water and beginning to list a’starboard. The CBO has reported that a crucial reform that was going to help make it all affordable, won’t save much money at all. From the story:
For the second time this month, congressional budget analysts have dealt a blow to the Democrat’s health reform efforts, this time by saying a plan touted by the White House as crucial to paying for the bill would actually save almost no money over 10 years. A key House chairman and moderate House Democrats on Tuesday agreed to a White House-backed proposal that would give an outside panel the power to make cuts to government-financed health care programs. White House budget director Peter Orszag declared the plan “probably the most important piece that can be added” to the House’s health care reform legislation.
But on Saturday, the Congressional Budget Office said the proposal to give an independent panel the power to keep Medicare spending in check would only save about $2 billion over 10 years- a drop in the bucket compared to the bill’s $1 trillion price tag. “In CBO’s judgment, the probability is high that no savings would be realized … but there is also a chance that substantial savings might be realized. Looking beyond the 10-year budget window, CBO expects that this proposal would generate larger but still modest savings on the same probabilistic basis,” CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf wrote in a letter to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Saturday.
We can’t afford $1 trillion, and that’s probably a modest number–especially not after all the other spending this government has undertaken in the last six months.
It looks to me as if Obama made the same mistake Hillary Clinton did and may reap the same political pain. Time to scrap this scow and start again. This time, the scope should be more modest and seek to cure the problems rather than remake the entire health care system. For example, no public health care option, no utilitarian bioethics oversight board empowered to delineate the limits of care; no health care rationing; vouchers for health insurance for those who can’t afford it; tax credits for individuals who buy private insurance; a national health insurance market; etc.
It would be a shame for this moment to pass without proper reforms. But the ship the Democrats and Obama have built isn’t sea worthy. Better scrap it and start again. Otherwise, the captain may go down with the ship.