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CBO: Real 10-Year Cost of Senate Bill Still $2.5 Trillion

6:49 PM, Dec 19, 2009 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
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With Obamacare, you get the good, the bad, and the ugly -- except for the first part.

The Congressional Budget Office's score is in for the final Senate health bill, and it's amazing how little Americans would get for so much.

The Democrats are irresponsibly and disingenuously claiming that the bill would cost $871 billion over 10 years. But that's not what the CBO says. Rather, the CBO says that $871 billion would be the costs from 2010 to 2019 for expansions in insurance coverage alone. But less than 2 percent of those "10-year costs" would kick in before the fifth year of that span. In its real first 10 years (2014 to 2023), the CBO says that the bill would cost $1.8 trillion -- for insurance coverage expansions alone. Other parts of the bill would cost approximately $700 billion more, bringing the bill's full 10-year tab to approximately $2.5 trillion -- according to the CBO.

In those real first 10 years (2014 to 2023), Americans would have to pay over $1 trillion in additional taxes, over $1 trillion would be siphoned out of Medicare (over $200 billion out of Medicare Advantage alone) and spent on Obamacare, and deficits would rise by over $200 billion. They would rise, that is, unless Congress follows through on the bill's pledge to cut doctors' payments under Medicare by 21 percent next year and never raise them back up -- which would reduce doctors' enthusiasm for seeing Medicare patients dramatically.

And what would Americans get in return for this staggering sum? Well, the CBO says that health care premiums would rise, and the Chief Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says that the percentage of the Gross Domestic Product spent on health care would rise from 17 percent today to 21 percent by the end of 2019. Nationwide health care costs would be $234 billion higher than under current law. How's that for "reform"?

Even MoveOn.org says that the bill is "a massive giveaway" to private insurance companies. The CBO estimates that, from 2015-25, private insurers would receive $1.0 trillion in subsidies from the American taxpayer -- the insurers' apparent price for giving up their freedom and being controlled by the government. Congress would mandate that Americans buy the insurers' product and would redirect massive sums of taxpayer money to make that mandate more feasible. So, if insurance companies are your idea of a worthy object of philanthropy, then Obamacare is for you.

And this is the bill that Ben Nelson has decided to support?

One hopes that Nebraska voters -- and all other voters in other states who have sent Democrats to Washington -- are making a list and checking it twice, keeping track of votes on Obamacare.

As Harry Reid keeps senators in session rather than letting them go home to be with their families and celebrate Christmas, it's important to remember that this bill would not go into effect in any meaningful way until more than an Olympiad from now. Thus, it is the American voters -- and not the current Democratic Congress or the current president -- who will ultimately decide its fate. Providing reminders to representatives in both chambers of that in the coming days will be crucial to beating back the onslaught of proposed legislation that, even if it passes the Senate, would at least have to passed again by the House and would likely have to go back through both chambers in compromised form.