The Spectacle Blog

Obama Admin. Actuary Finds Unsustainable Status Quo Cheaper than Obamacare

By on 11.16.09 | 11:27AM

One of President Obama's primary justifications for pushing health care legislation has been that the status quo is "unsustainable" because of the skyrocketing cost of medical care in the United States. The way to rein in costs, he argues, is to do adopt the policies that he and his fellow Democrats are proposing. But a new report by the government actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a branch of the Obama administration's Department of Health and Human Services, has found that the exact opposite is true.

CMS took a close look at the health care bill that was passed by House Democrats and endorsed by the White House, and it found that not only would the bill not reduce health care costs -- it would increase them. Time and again, we have been reminded that the United States spends a higher percentage of its GDP on health care than any other nation -- about 16 percent. As Obama put it in his June speech to the American Medical Association, "If we fail to act, one out of every five dollars we earn will be spent on health care within a decade." Yet if we adopt the legislation supported by Obama -- which finances expanded coverage through tax increases and Medicare cuts -- health care spending will actually rise to 21.1 percent of GDP, according to CMS, compared to 20.8 percent if we simply do nothing.

"Make no mistake: The cost of our health care is a threat to our economy," Obama told AMA. "It's an escalating burden on our families and businesses. It's a ticking time bomb for the federal budget. And it is unsustainable for the United States of America."

I suppose a liberal could still argue that it's better to cover more people even if it will cost us more as a nation. But given that Obama has spent much of the year arguing that the reason we need to do something about health care is that the status quo is "unsustainable," then it's pretty hard to justify health care policies that are more costly than the status quo.

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