- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A new report that for the first time gauges the impact of health care reform two decades out shows the nation’s budget imbalance would skyrocket after 2020.

The House bill would increase the budget deficit by $1 trillion between 2020 to 2029, up from $39 billion from 2010 through 2019, says the Peterson Foundation study, conducted by the nonpartisan Lewin Group.

For “health care reform to be fiscally responsible, it must not just pay for itself over 10 years and beyond, it should also result in a significant reduction in the tens of trillions of dollars in the federal government’s unfunded health care promises,” said David Walker, president and CEO of the Peterson Foundation, which promotes fiscal prudence.

President Obama has stressed that health care reform cannot and will not increase the nation’s budget deficit, but all of the White House forecasts have looked only at the next decade.

Mr. Walker said the study, released Wednesday shows the top priority needs to be reducing total health care costs and the rate of increase in future costs.

The Peterson Foundation estimates that the U.S. already has $56.4 trillion in unfunded obligations and promises over the long term, and said that “adding new benefit promises without adequate sources of financing will further threaten the nation’s long-term financial stability.”

The White House declined to comment on a report it said it had not seen.