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So, where are we now, almost two years after the law’s passage? A new report from the Department of Health and Human Services gives us the stats for the PPACA Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, or PCIP. After Obamacare became law, in November 2010, government officials estimated that they would spend $13,026 per high-risk pool enrollee. Nine months later, in August 2011, they revised their estimate to $28,994 per enrollee: a 123 percent increase.
The federal government faces a daunting fiscal outlook, which makes the budgetary impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act even more important. The official Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis indicates modest deficit reduction over the next ten years and beyond. We examine the underpinnings of the CBO’s projection and conclude that it is built on a shaky foundation of omitted costs, premiums shifted from other entitlements, and politically dubious spending cuts and revenue increases. A more comprehensive and realistic projection suggests that the new reform law will raise the deficit by more than $500 billion during the first ten years and by nearly $1.5 trillion in the following decade.
Every expert I have talked to says that the public has it right. These bills, as they stand, are budget-busters.
Here, for example, is what Robert Bixby, the executive director of the Concord Coalition, a bipartisan group of budget watchdogs, told me: "The Senate bill is better than the House version, but there's not much reform in this bill. As of now, it's basically a big entitlement expansion, plus tax increases."
The challenge to Congress -- and to Obama -- remains the same: Make the promised savings real, and don't pass along unfunded programs to our children and grandchildren.