Thursday, July 16, 2009

CBO chief disses Democrats' health plans

At a hearing today, the head of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) gave a blunt, negative assessment of the Democrats' health plan proposals. The Washington Post reports
Instead of saving the federal government from fiscal catastrophe, the health reform measures being drafted by congressional Democrats would worsen an already bleak budget outlook, increasing deficit projections and driving the nation more deeply into debt, the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said this morning.

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."
The Democrats should take this assessment from the CBO to heart. At the very least, the CBO's recommendations to cap the tax subsidy on employer-provided health benefits (instead of the soak-the-rich surtax) and to change Medicare reimbursements should be included in the legislative mark-up process. Better yet, the Democrats should yank their just-introduced bill and rework it to come up with genuine cost savings.