Surprise! The Government Now Can’t Even Guess How Much Obamacare Ultimately Will Cost
by Genevieve Wood, Heritage Foundation, Daily Signal, June 6, 2014
It’s no secret Obamacare is unaffordable. But now we also know that even the Congressional Budget Office can’t predict how much more this disastrous law will cost.
According to a footnote from a Congressional Budget Office report released in April but reported this week by Roll Call, the law’s true costs and long-term fiscal impact are simply impossible to track.
That’s a change in tune for the CBO, which originally reported in 2010 that Obamacare would pay for itself and over the course of a decade would decrease the deficit.
So what’s changed?
Well, thanks to the constant modifications to the law, the only thing predictable about Obamacare’s provisions is that they’re unpredictable.
Many of the “savings” and “revenue” (read: mandates and tax increases) originally proposed to pay for this redesign of one-sixth of the U.S. economy, whether Medicare cuts or employer mandates, have been waived, stalled or simply not implemented, making a defensible revised forecast impossible. The changes occurred because it became clear such measures were both politically unpopular and realistically unaffordable.
There are other reasons that it’s virtually impossible to even guess how much Obamacare will ultimately cost.
We learned this week that more than 2 million people—a whopping quarter of those enrolled in Obamacare—who signed up for insurance via Obamacare’s health care exchanges have discrepancies in their records and paperwork.
Apparently the government has inaccurate or inadequate information regarding the income levels of more than 1 million people who signed up and can’t verify the immigration or citizenship status for more than 900,000. That means some current enrollees may not be eligible for Obamacare subsidies and may lose their coverage or may have been given too generous a subsidy and eventually will have to pay the government back.
Serco, Inc., a government contractor hired to track down and verify the missing information, released a statement saying, “Current system access and functionality … limits the ability to resolve outstanding inconsistencies.”
That means the government’s website again was not up to par and much of the work to resolve the data discrepancies will require hands-on work to figure out who among these 2 million people should be getting insurance and subsidies through the exchange and who should not. In other words, there will need to be a significant number of extra staffers brought onto fix this mess.
Guess the Obama administration finally is delivering on those “job creation” promises—too bad it’s at the taxpayers’ expense.
Not all the bad news regarding the spending train wreck that is Obamacare emanates from Washington. Many of the states that chose to set up their own exchanges spent hundreds of millions of federal dollars to do so—and yet ended up with exchanges that don’t work.
As we approach the next enrollment period in November, lawmakers in those states are frantically trying to figure out whether they can get more dollars from Washington to fix their problems or if they are going to have to use their own state funds. State Rep. John Delaney, a Democrat in Maryland, worries his state will have to divert dollars from education, fixing potholes and other programs to address its broken exchange. “You can’t just print money in the states,” he said.
That’s right. But the printing presses in Washington have been overused for some time as well—and states that gladly jumped on the Obamacare bandwagon and took the bait shouldn’t be let off the hook by Congress.
So to sum up, the CBO can’t calculate Obamacare’s future costs, confusion about enrollees’ actual salaries could lead to wildly varying numbers on how much it costs this year, and there’s no telling how much money some states ultimately will weasel out of Washington to set up Obamacare.
Talk about a monstrosity of a government program.
What we do know for sure is that Obamacare will cost far more than President Obama and all those who voted for it in Congress told us it would. Which most of us realized all along.