Those vulnerable Democrats whose votes for health care reform were predicated on the conceit that it would not add to the nation's bloated deficit have today found themselves in a precarious position, as a new report by federal regulators indicated the health care remake will add $311* billion to the national deficit over the next ten years.
A report released Thursday by economic experts at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) found the new legislation would add 34 million uninsured Americans to the coverage rolls, but at a significant cost -- one that neither the president nor his party anticipated as they approach the midterm elections.
"We estimate that overall national health expenditures under the health reform act would increase by a total of $311 billion (0.9 percent) during the calendar years 2010-2019," the report, authored by the chief actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, read. "Although several provisions would help to reduce health care volts growth, their impact would be more than offset through 2019 by the higher health expenditures resulting from coverage expansions."
The memeorandum also warned the spending hike associated with the legislation may be understated, since the cuts in Medicare may be untenable and impractical.
President Barack Obama insisted the nation's economic recovery and health care system were inextricably linked, and not reforming the latter could further depress the former. We could not afford not to reform the health care industry, the White House said at numerous junctions in the year-long debate.
"Make no mistake: The cost of our health care is a threat to our economy," he told the American Medical Association. "It's an escalating burden on our families and business. It's a ticking time bomb for the federal budget. And it's unsustainable for the United States of America."
Per The American Spectator's Phil Klein:
But for all the talk over the past year about "bending the cost curve down," CMS, the agency that is tasked with tracking national health care expenditures, has now projected that the new law will actually bend the cost curve in the opposite direction. That is, up.
Not surprisingly, CMS notes that, "Numerous studies have demonstrated that individuals and families with health insurance use more health services than others-similar persons without insurance." Thus, expanding coverage will mean greater usage of health care services.
Those House Democrats most vulnerable by their votes include Representatives Brad Ellsworth, Kendrick Meek, John Boccieri, Charlie Wilson, Suzanne Kosmas, Melissa Bean, Joe Sestak, Bill Owens and Chris Carney, all of whom contended, at one point or another over the course of the health care debate, that the legislation would not further saddle the federal government with unnecessary and additional expenses.
Their unfortunate colleagues in the upper chamber, via the Weekly Standard's Daniel Halper, include Senators Michael Bennet, Barbara Boxer, Russ Feingold, Kirsten Gillibrand, Paul Hodes, Blance Lincoln, Patty Murray, Harry Reid and Arlen Specter.
Suffice it to say: Virtually every Democrat is on the chopping block this cycle.
*The CMS report said spending would increase by $311 billion, not $331 billion, and the post has been updated to reflect that.