By Jeffrey King
As we approach the one-year anniversary since the Comprehensive Healthcare Reform Act was signed into federal law, analysts representing a broad spectrum of corporations, government, and private organizations have methodically sifted through the grainy numbers that comprise the costs of the new legislation.
Currently, the GOP-dominated House is lining up to repeal and replace the bill. At the same time, Democrats are fervently defending their legislation on the grounds that the law will cut the ever-increasing federal deficit by a figure of about $230 billion over this decade.
Already a staggering $14 trillion in the red, many Americans are calling for reductions to this incomprehensible debt, as evidenced by the midterm elections in November, where candidates won with a platform emphasizing debt reduction.
A $230 billion savings over the next ten years to the national debt appears concurrent with the newly elected candidate’s platform, but why the urgency to repeal our current law?
If we peel back some of the figures like an onion, we will discover some truly confounding facts that will make your eyes water. In his preliminary analysis of H.R. 2 (the Republican health-care repeal), Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Douglas Elmendorf states, “CBO anticipates that enacting H.R. 2 would probably yield, in the 2012-2021 period, a reduction in revenues in the neighborhood of $770 billion and a reduction in outlays in the vicinity of $540 billion.” To offset the $540 billion cost, federal tax revenue will rise this decade to the tune of $770 billion, hence the $230 billion projected savings according to the non-partisan (CBO).
To the non-discerning eye, this calculation appears logical. After all, we are SAVING money from being added to the deficit, right? This conjecture is far from the truth. Essentially, Democrats on Capital Hill portray what is a radical increase in expenditure ($540 billion cost) and an even more extreme increase in tax revenue ($770 billion income) as a simple deficit-reducing measure.
Further more, Washington Post columnist and strident conservative Charles Krauthammer pointed out that the projected cost of the legislation is predicated on a ten-year projection even though benefits of the law do not begin until 2014. Thus, the $540 billion cost will really only cover six years even though tax income has begun to accrue beginning on the first day of this year. Quite a bold optical illusion, huh?
Krauthammer also points out that the current healthcare law provides for a second expensive entitlement: long-term care insurance. With 2011 marking a critical year for the country as a tsunami of baby-boomers begins to retire, this will undoubtedly swell and flood the welfare’s balance sheets. So how is it that simple arithmetic could become so convoluted? Manipulation in numbers and statistics woven with rhetoric can sound very convincing to the masses.
There is no doubt that our current healthcare mechanism requires serious reform, but the current law only promises a blanket of reduced care service at a higher premium for us all. It is imperative our nation investigate other options to the current law.