President Obama has made controlling health care costs the focal point of his drive for health care legislation, and has made the counterintuitive argument that the federal government can save money while paying to cover tens of millions of more Americans. But under questioning from Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad today, the director of the Congressional Budget Office, Doug Elmendorf, testified that the current Democratic health care plans do nothing to control costs — in fact, their proposed changes would add to costs:
Conrad: Dr. Elmendorf, I am going to really put you on the spot because we are in the middle of this health care debate, but it is critically important that we get this right. Everyone has said, virtually everyone, that bending the cost curve over time is critically important and one of the key goals of this entire effort. From what you have seen from the products of the committees that have reported, do you see a successful effort being mounted to bend the long-term cost curve?
Elmendorf: No, Mr. Chairman. In the legislation that has been reported we do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount. And on the contrary, the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health care costs.
ABC’s the Note has the full exchange.