Thursday, July 16, 2009


Under questioning by members of the Senate Budget Committee, CBO director Douglas Elmendorf said bills crafted by House leaders and the Senate health committee do not propose "the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount."

"On the contrary," Elmendorf said, "the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health-care costs."

Though President Obama and Democratic leaders have said repeatedly that reining in the skyrocketing growth in spending on government health programs such as Medicaid and Medicare is their top priority, the reform measures put forth so far would not fulfill their pledge to "bend the cost curve" downward, Elmendorf said. Instead, he said, "The curve is being raised."

From the Washington Post. This is stronger the Director Elmendorf indicated in his letter to Rep. Charlie Rangel yesterday.

He notes there that the estimated $1 trillion in additional deficits created by the House plan (which is really over six years rather than a decade, since nothing moves in the plan before 2013) does not include "the administrative costs to the federal government of implementing the specified policies, nor have we accounted for all of the proposal�s likely effects on spending for other federal programs."

Once again, the Democrats are working the umpire:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) acted surprised by Elmendorf's statement.

"Did he say that?" Pelosi said during her morning news conference in response to a question about Elmendorf's comments. "It's the same person who said we're not giving any credit for prevention or renegotiating for lower costs for pharmaceutical drugs ... I disagree that they don't score in a positive way prevention, wellness, negotiating for lower pharmaceutical drugs."
But now she's got the Obama Administration also seeking a better plan:
The Obama administration indicated last week that it had similar concerns about the House bill. White House Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag, Elmendorf�s predecessor at the Congressional Budget Office, sent a letter to House Democratic committee chairmen urging them to �maintain and strengthen� provisions in their bill that would have long-term benefits.

�Adopting a deficit-neutral health reform that expands coverage, however, is not enough because it would perpetuate a system in which best practices are far from universal and costs are too high,� Orszag wrote last Wednesday, when he also addressed the House Democratic Caucus.

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