CBO: The Affordable Care Act Will Save Even More Money Than We Thought

I wanted to write today about the ongoing Republican assault on women’s rights in places like Arizona (employers may have the right to grill women about why they need contraceptives and possibly fire them for giving the wrong answer) and Pennsylvania (the GOP gov’nor “says he supports forcing women to have an ultrasound before an abortion because they can just close their eyes”) and Texas (GOP lawmakers barred Planned Parenthood from state funding, which means the Federal money for the state’s Women’s Health Program will dry up, too).

But something else has bothered me since I heard it earlier this week:

RUSH LIMBAUGH: The Congressional Budget Office says that Obamacare is gonna cost twice what he told us.

I knew when I heard this newly-minted meme that it would, true or not, generate a lot of heat among heat-seeking right-wingers. Limbaugh went to great lengths to explain what he doesn’t understand, which is actually the format of his show, by the way.

What Limbaugh was trying to explain that he doesn’t understand was the “Updated Estimates For The Insurance Coverage Provision Of The Affordable Care Act,” released on Tuesday (The 8 1/2 page text is here and the blog post summary is here). The CBO was doing its job of getting us up-to-date on the “budgetary effects” of the coverage provisions of the ACA.

If Limbaugh—and others who ought to know better—had actually read the CBO report (as Rick Ungar of Forbes noted it is “available in very readable English“), they would have noticed that the CBO actually estimates the net cost of the ACA will be around $50 billion less than its estimate from last year!  Get that? $50 billion less, which means the new law will save taxpayers more money then the CBO originally estimated!

As I think about it, it is obvious that these Republican folks actually did read the report and found it necessary to lie about what it meant because otherwise their campaign to repeal it would lose a little steam, if word got out that it isn’t the budget-buster they’ve been saying it is.

I won’t bother to go over the nuances of the report, since good explanations are available, including here and here and here, but I will quote from each source listed:

As it says right in the title, this is just a look at “the insurance coverage provisions” of the Affordable Care Act. That is to say, it’s a look at the spending side of the bill. So it doesn’t include the Medicare cuts, or many of the tax increases, that pay for the legislation. It’s like reading only the “outlays” side of the budget and ignoring the “revenues” part. Of course that would make the deficit look huge. (Ezra Klein)

..not only is the GOP pitch a gross distortion of the truth, this is one of those all too rare moments where I get to actually prove the meme to be nothing more than another effort to confuse Americans. (Rick Ungar)

Yes, you read that right: The real news of the CBO estimate is that, according to its models, health care reform is going to save even more taxpayer dollars than previously thought. (Jonathan Cohn)

To be fair, Cohn does mention “one finding that give us at least a little pause“:

CBO now projects the number of people with employer-sponsored insurance will drop by 4 million people, on net. It’s still a small effect, representing less than 2 percent of the total population with employer-sponsored coverage. That’s well within the margin of error of these models. It’s also difficult to tell why CBO thinks this will happen—whether it’s fewer employers offering insurance, fewer employees accepting coverage, or workers moving into firms that are less likely to provide benefits. Any of those would be consistent with lower economic growth, as CBO now expects. Still, the issue merits attention.

Cohn also points out—for those Republicans who cry crocodile tears over the estimate that 4 million folks will lose their employer-sponsored insurance—”if they had their way, health care reform would reach even fewer people and provide less protection.”

And who can doubt that?


  1. ansonburlingame

     /  March 16, 2012

    I offer two direct quotes out of the CBO linked report:
    “The current estimate of the gross cost of the current projections ($1.496 billion) is about $50 Billion higher than last year’s projections;…..”
    “Over the 10 year period from 2011 thru 2021,enactment of the coverage provisions of the ACA was projected to INCREASE FEDERAL DEFICITS by $1,131 Billion, whereas the March 2012 estimate indicates that deficits will increase by $1,083 Billion.” (the bold and capitalized words above are mine, not the report’s)
    I would also suggest readers check footnote #3 on the first page of the report.

    Cut the information anyway you care to do so for purposes of spin. Based on the above, straight out of the report however, it still seems like we are talking about at least a $1Trillion INCREASE in DEFICIT SPENDING as a result of ACA.


  2. mike

     /  February 27, 2013

    Do we have any doubt, that our government no longer believes or lives to the principles that founded this country.


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