President Obama’s milestone health-care proposal, hyped more as a means to control costs, may add more than $340 billion to the nation’s budget over the next decade, according to a new study by a Republican member of the board that oversees Medicare financing.
The study will be released Tuesday by Charles Blahous, a conservative policy analyst whom Obama accepted in 2010 as the GOP trustee for Medicare and Social Security. His analysis challenges the conventional wisdom that the health-care law, which calls for an expensive expansion of coverage for the uninsured beginning in 2014, will nevertheless reduce deficits by raising taxes and cutting payments to Medicare Plan providers.
The 2010 law does generate both savings and revenue. But much of that money will flow into the Medicare hospitalization trust fund. That means those savings would not be available to pay for expanding coverage for the uninsured.
Administration officials do not approve of the study, holding that it departs from bipartisan budget rules used to measure every major deficit-reduction effort for the past four decades.
Blahous recognized that his analysis diverts from budget conventions, which, he held make sense for the most part. He held that in this case, however, those rules do not fully shed light on the financial impact of the health-care law, since they allow what conservative critics have called a “double counting” of proposed Medicare Plan savings.
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