Yes, the House Health Bill Costs More than $1.2 Trillion

In a series of posts last week, I noted that the coverage provisions in the House health bill would cost more than $1 trillion over the next ten years, notably higher than the $894 billion figure that was circulated when the bill was first released. In addition, I pointed out that the bill includes other spending increases that aren’t involved in expanding coverage; when you factor those in, I estimated that the real cost of the bill would be almost $1.3 trillion.

I am not alone in this conclusion. According to David Espo of the Associated Press:

The health care bill headed for a vote in the House this week costs $1.2 trillion or more over a decade, according to numerous Democratic officials and figures contained in an analysis by congressional budget experts, far higher than the $900 billion cited by President Barack Obama as a price tag for his reform plan.

While the Congressional Budget Office has put the cost of expanding coverage in the legislation at roughly $1 trillion, Democrats added billions more on higher spending for public health, a reinsurance program to hold down retiree health costs, payments for preventive services and more.

Many of the additions are designed to improve benefits or ease access to coverage in government programs. The officials who provided overall cost estimates did so on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss them.

My own calculation came in at $1.27 trillion, which strikes me as “almost $1.3 trillion” rather than “$1.2 trillion or more”, but that’s nit-picking.

The key point is that there’s a consensus, at least behind the scenes, that the bill would cost more than $1.2 trillion over the next ten years.

About Donald Marron 294 Articles

Donald Marron is an economist in the Washington, DC area. He currently speaks, writes, and consults about economic, budget, and financial issues.

From 2002 to early 2009, he served in various senior positions in the White House and Congress including: * Member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) * Acting Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) * Executive Director of Congress’s Joint Economic Committee (JEC)

Before his government service, Donald had a varied career as a professor, consultant, and entrepreneur. In the mid-1990s, he taught economics and finance at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. He then spent about a year-and-a-half managing large antitrust cases (e.g., Pepsi vs. Coke) at Charles River Associates in Washington, DC. After that, he took the plunge into the world of new ventures, serving as Chief Financial Officer of a health care software start-up in Austin, TX. After that fascinating experience, he started his career in public service.

Donald received his Ph.D. in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his B.A. in Mathematics a couple miles down the road at Harvard.

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