"Supposedly the whole point of ObamaCare was to 'bend the curve' and reduce the growth rate of health-care spending. Everyone now knows it will do the opposite -- as at least one corner of the Obama Administration is willing to admit.
"This week, the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, released a cost estimate for the House health bill. Its projections mostly track those issued by the Congressional Budget Office, but CMS does ask some questions that CBO so far hasn't pursued. The results aren't pretty.
"CMS estimates the House bill would add 2.1 percentage points to the (already high) annual growth rate of national health spending. In 2019, when the second decade of ObamaCare would kick in, the bill would add 2.7 points to the growth rate.
"CMS also observes that the 'game changers' President Obama and especially budget chief Peter Orszag used to promote, like comparative effectiveness research and more wellness programs, are actually nonchangers. They'll save a pitiful $2.1 billion over a decade -- about 0.002% of the $1.042 trillion in new spending authorized by the House bill.
"Even the good news isn't so good. CMS says spending growth would be even higher except that so many more people will receive their care from government, allowing Washington to economize through 'sizable discounts imposed on providers,' which is one way of putting it. (Another way of putting it: Expect long lines and shabbier treatment as fewer doctors are willing to treat government-insured patients.)
"In fact, CMS estimates that seven years after the bill's provisions take effect, government's share of total health-care spending will have risen to 55% from today's 47%. Single payer, here we come.
"The White House is telling nervous Democrats to ignore the report, since the House bill will be merged with others before a final product is completed. As one Hill staffer puts it: 'Isn't that a bit like saying don't worry about the ingredients of a cigarette because once we roll them all together it will be healthy for you?'"
-- Joseph Rago, Wall Street Journal