The more that is learned about the emerging Democratic reform plans, the less likely they are to pass.
Last evening, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its first cost-estimate for one of the emerging Democratic bills — the Kennedy-Dodd bill that the Senate HELP Committee is planning to take up this week.
As Yuval Levin has already noted, CBO finds that the bill, in its incomplete draft form, would cost a lot — more than $1 trillion — and cover a relatively small portion of the uninsured (about one-third).
CBO director Doug Elmendorf notes in his cover letter that the bill they scored did not include the planned expansion of Medicaid to all persons with incomes below 150 percent of the poverty line. That provision would decrease the uninsured rate, but also add hundreds of billions more to the total budgetary cost.
The CBO cost estimate also makes it clear that the president’s repeated statement that Americans will get to keep the health insurance they have today is simply not true. CBO projects that some 15 million people would get pushed out of their job-based plans and into the so-called “gateways” run by the states. That number will go much higher when the bill includes the promised “government option.”
CBO assumed that the bill would have a somewhat effective “individual mandate,” which penalizes people when they don’t sign up for coverage. They expect the government would collect about $2 billion over ten years from those who don’t buy government-approved health insurance.