Health Care: The Democrats’ reform is barely out of the gate and the Congressional Budget Office already says its previous cost estimate was too low. Either the bill’s supporters lied or they’re profoundly ignorant.
Either way, they are not fit to serve the country, much less rule it, which many of them seem to believe is their divine right.
As noted on these pages and elsewhere, government programs always cost far more than their original projections. Medicare has cost more than 10 times as much as initially estimated. It took Medicaid, the government’s other mammoth health care program, a mere five years to spend twice as much as early estimates said it would.
At the state level, the story remains the same. Maine’s 2003 program to cover the uninsured has already cost taxpayers there $150 million, but it was sold as a plan that would save them money. Tennessee’s arrangement became such a parasite — eating up 40% of the state’s budget by 2008 — that it had to be shut down. Massachusetts’ program overran cost projections so sharply it had to throw 30,000 beneficiaries off the rolls last year.
Despite this clear history, lawmakers always promise the next program won’t cost taxpayers — or that it’ll save them money.
They get support from the media that are rarely interested in what nanny-state programs cost, voters who simply are unaware of the past and too busy with their lives to think about today, and a large segment of the public that doesn’t care what the costs are because it craves yet another government entitlement.
As we recall, President Obama said his party’s health care overhaul wouldn’t increase the deficit by a single dime and would actually “bend the cost curve downward.” Supporters in and out of Congress went along with the charade.
At some point, Americans will have to deal with reality, such as the CBO’s latest analysis. Director Douglas Elmendorf now says the program will probably cost at least $115 billion more from 2010 to 2019 than had been originally thought. So it is now officially a trillion-dollar program — though unofficially, meaning realistic estimates made outside the federal government, it could cost as much as $3.5 trillion over its first 10 years.
The new estimate, released Tuesday, includes “administrative expenses for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Internal Revenue Service for carrying out key requirements of the legislation” as well as “explicit authorizations for future appropriations for a variety of grant and other program spending.”