Human Exceptionalism

Obamacare: Hiding the True Cost Through False Assumptions

Obamacare was the most dishonestly packaged argued law I have witnessed in my about 45 years of paying attention to public affairs.  And now, we learn that the mendacity continues as a joint Congressional committee set rules to intentionally (it would seem) underestimate the costs of Obamacare to the government in premium subsidies going forward, perhaps by $50 billion annually. From the Daily Caller story:

Federal payments required by President Barack Obama’s health care law are being understated by as much as $50 billion per year because official budget forecasts ignore the cost of insuring many employees’ spouses and children, according to a new analysis. The result could cost the U.S. Treasury hundreds of billions of dollars during the first ten years of the new health care law’s implementation.

“The Congressional Budget Office has never done a cost-estimate of this [because] they were expressly told to do their modeling on single [person] coverage,” said Richard Burkhauser in a telephone interview Monday. Burkhauser is an economist who teaches in Cornell University’s department of policy analysis and management. On Monday the National Bureau of Economic Research published a working paper on the subject that Burkhauser co-authored with colleagues from Cornell and Indiana University…

The president’s health care law provides government subsidies for, among others, private-sector employees who earn between 1.33 times and 4 times the poverty level, and who also spend more than 9.5 percent of their family income on health care. On May 4, 2010, the Joint Committee on Taxation directed the Congressional Budget Office to ignore family members when determining whether employees actually pay more than 9.5 percent of their household income on insurance. The instruction was included in a correction of a complex, 150-page March 21 document. The correction read: “ERRATA FOR JCX-18-10 … On page 15, Minimum essential coverage and employer offer of health insurance coverage, in the second sentence of the second paragraph, ‘the type of coverage applicable (e.g., individual or family coverage)’ should be replaced with ‘self-only coverage.’”

Of course they did.

Part of the $50 billion comes from questions about how many people will remain covered by employers and how many will decide it is in their interests to obtain subsidized coverage through the exchanges.  No one really knows the answer to that. But that doesn’t explain why a false premise was put into the instructions for cost estimates.

Not only that, but Republicans may have cooperated with the underestimate of  Obamacare’s true costs–when their party’s official position is to repeal the monstrosity.  Either that, or somebody changed the instruction when no one was looking.

On a broader picture, this seems par for the course: Government is run today so no one can figure out what is really going on.

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