Politics

What the Administration Knew about Health Care Reform Costs

| by Reason Foundation

On Monday, The Prowler, a pseudonymous writer for The American Spectator, posted an item quoting an anonymous source at the Department of Health and Human Services saying the agency had delayed the release of a report by Medicare actuary Richard Foster noting that overall medical spending would rise under the health reform law.

The HHS has since denied that this is true, telling Post reporter (and Reason contributing editor) Dave Weigel that the article is "completely inaccurate."

The Prowler says his sources are standing by the following facts:

Prior to final passage of the health care reform bill on Sunday, March 21, the Office of the Actuary had provided senior leaders inside HHS with data that indicated the then-bill would increase the cost of health care and impose higher costs on Americans. And that data was not provided to anyone publicly until after the legislation was passed.

Popular Video

This judge looked an inmate square in the eyes and did something that left the entire courtroom in tears:

Popular Video

This judge looked an inmate square in the eyes and did something that left the entire courtroom in tears:

It's impossible to know exactly what happened without knowing who the sources are, but it sounds like some data was available prior to passage, though no formal report was ready. The follow-up item also carefully declines to stand by the initial assertion that a report was intentionally suppressed or delayed—saying only that none of the relevant data was released publicly until after the law's passage.

The strange thing about all this is that the report didn't actually indicate much that's genuinely new: A similar report by the CMS actuary on a prior version of the bill was released in November, and it, too, noted that health care costs would go up under the bill, that seniors might see Medicare service cuts, and that the increased demand for care could result in a shortage of care providers. That report might have been glossed over somewhat, but it certainly wasn't suppressed.

On the other hand, the existence of the earlier report means that even if HHS leadership didn't actively attempt to delay the release of the new analysis, they—as did anyone else who was paying attention—knew well in advance of the law's passage that CMS was projecting that ObamaCare would drive overall spending upwards.