What costs more — health reform or repeal?
By Lauren McNitt
Republicans got some unwelcome news today — a nonpartisan group used by both parties to estimate the cost of bills said the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act would cost — a lot.
In a preliminary report sent to new House Speaker John Boehner, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that repealing the health care reform law would add about $145 billion to the deficit by 2019. By 2021, it would add $230 billion to the deficit and 32 million fewer people would have health coverage.
The report presents a dilemma for House Republicans, since their new rules say no bill that adds to the budget deficit can pass. Yet, a procedural vote on the repeal bill is scheduled for tomorrow and a floor vote is scheduled for next Wednesday.
But Republicans remained unfazed by the report and were quick to dispute its methodology.
“CBO is entitled to their opinion,” said Boehner. “When you look at it dollar by dollar, you can tell that the numbers just don’t add up.”
A spokesman for Boehner pointed out the CBO report excludes the $115 billion it would take to implement the bill. In addition, the spokesman said it double-counts $521 billion in Social Security payroll taxes, CLASS ACT premiums and Medicare cuts.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor also dismissed the report, and said House Republicans believe the health care law has been “a significant impediment to job growth in this country.”
To further back their case, Republicans released a report today with their own analysis of the cost health reform.
The report, “Obamacare: A Budget-Busting, Job-Killing Health Care Law: A Report on the Economic and Fiscal Consequences of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act & the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act” cited an analysis by House Budget Committee Republicans that estimates the health care reform law will cost the nation $2.6 trillion when fully implemented, and add $701 billion to the deficit in the first 10 years.
The report also cites a CBO study:
Independent analyses have determined that the health care law will cause significant job losses for the U.S. economy: the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has determined that the law will reduce the “amount of labor used in the economy by … roughly half a percent...,” an estimate that adds up to roughly 650,000 jobs lost.
However, as the Washington Post reported, the citation left out one CBO point:
In fact, what the CBO actually said was that the law will "reduce the amount of labor used in the economy by a small amount." In the Republican report "small amount" was replaced by an ellipsis.
As the debate over the cost of repeal heats up, political analysts point out that even if the repeal legislation passes the House, it will not be able pass the Senate.