Yes, $2.6 Trillion! A Closer Look at the Full 10 Years of Spending in the House Health Bill

November 6th, 2009 Greg D'Angelo

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic leadership are frantically trying to find enough votes to pass their giant 2,032 page health care legislation this weekend. But before Speaker Pelosi and liberals in Congress pass their big bill, the American taxpayers should be fully aware of the full price tag of this monster.

As Heritage analysts noted earlier in the week, the Congressional Budget Office released its preliminary score of the bill (H.R. 3962) but too many in the media have not been reporting its true cost. The true cost is not the net spending on only the coverage related provisions ($897 billion) but rather the total gross spending for the coverage provisions ($1.05 trillion) as well as any additional spending in the bill (approximately $217 billion). That would raise the plan’s price tag to about $1.5 trillion when including the roughly $210 billion cost of the “doc fix” is included. The “doc fix” refers to the undoing of the flawed Medicare payment update formula, which Congress created but has routinely stopped from being enforced. Under current law, that formula would result in a 20 percent reduction in doctors’ pay under the Medicare program.

The real story about the true cost is even more dramatic. The bill is front loaded with taxes, and back-loaded with spending in the first ten years. Since most of the spending in the House bill does not fully go into effect until 2014, the 10-year cost estimates based on the preliminary CBO score (for years 2010 through 2019) only account for six years of new spending under the plan. Once it is implemented (over a full 10-year window from years 2014 to 2023), the giant House health bill carries a price tag of $2.4 trillion, or as much as $2.6 trillion with the “doc fix.”

 Read more from Heritage’s “The Foundry” blog


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