Sen. Orrin Hatch blasted Democrats on Friday for using “budget gimmicks” to obscure the true cost of health care legislation, which he said was well into the trillions of dollars.
As I reported yesterday, Sen. Harry Reid plans to rush through a bill next week that would prevent scheduled cuts to doctors payment rates in Medicare, at a cost of $247 billion, without any budgetary offsets.
“It’s a shell game,” Hatch said on a conference call.
By passing the bill separately, Democrats will try to claim that their larger health care bill costs less than $1 trillion and is deficit neutral. The so-called “doc fix” is aimed at preventing physicians from leaving Medicare because the program isn’t paying them enough.
“It will be completely deficit financed,” Hatch said. “And what’s important is that it’s going to be a lot more than $250 billion, because that’s in present worth.”
When adjusted for expected inflation over the next 10 years, the actual cost is likely to be twice that, Hatch projected.
“President Obama promised deficit-neutral health care reform and the ‘doc fix’ is part of health care reform,” he said. “So why is it being done separately?”
Hatch, who serves on the Finance Committee, also noted that the committee’s bill delays most of its major provisions until 2014, so that the 10-year cost (measured by the Congressional Budget Office from 2010 to 2019) appears to be less. But, he said, the true 10-year cost once all the provisions are in acted is $1.8 trillion.