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MURDOCK: The ‘Unaffordable Care Act’

Obamacare is already overrunning its budget

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President Obama's health plan should be rechristened the "Unaffordable Care Act." Precisely as Obamacare's critics predicted, the officially titled Affordable Care Act is no bargain for taxpayers or patients.

Mr. Obama signed this measure on March 23, 2010. Less than two years later, its original $940 billion price tag for 10 years is in tatters. As the Congressional Budget Office reforecast Tuesday, this program will cost $1.76 trillion through fiscal 2022. This is an 87 percent overrun not even 24 months into this boondoggle. At this rate, the Unaffordable Care Act may do for medicine what Boston's Big Dig tunnel did for public works.

How did this initiative deteriorate so quickly?

"The books have been severely cooked," says House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican. As devious Democrats concocted Obamacare in 2009, they delayed its full implementation until 2014. Hence, back-loaded expenses mainly filled the final six years of the CBO's 10-year analysis of the bill's costs. As they shoved Obamacare down America's collective throat, Democrats lied about how delicious it was, at not quite $1 trillion.

CBO's latest valuation now reflects two more fat years of this contraption in full operation. Gross costs for fiscal 2021 and 2022 equal $250 billion and $265 billion, respectively. This clearer picture nearly doubles the Unaffordable Care Act's advertised price. Soon, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, Michigan Republican, frets, "The Democrats' health care law is certain to top more than $2 trillion."

The now-defunct Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (Class) Act is a key reason for the Unaffordable Care Act's unaffordability.

Even before it passed Congress, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, North Dakota Democrat, called this long-term-care provision "a Ponzi scheme of the first order, the kind of thing Bernie Madoff would be proud of." Medicare's chief actuary, Richard Foster, concluded: "Thirty-six years of actuarial experience lead me to believe that this program would collapse in short order and require significant federal subsidies to continue."

Indeed, the Obama administration in October dismissed the Class Act as unworkable - along with its $86 billion in anticipated deficit reduction.

The Unaffordable Care Act should sicken taxpayers and patients, too.

"The president said that by enacting this health care law, every family would save $2,500 per year," Sen. Ron Johnson, Wisconsin Republican, said at a March 7 Appropriations Committee hearing. "The Kaiser Family Foundation has already released a study saying that average costs of family health care plans are up $2,200. We're already different by $4,700; it's going to be hard to get us down to $2,500 cost savings."

Also, the CBO expects an additional 4 million Americans to lose their employer-provided coverage, as managers choose fines over premiums on even costlier, Obama-approved health plans. As the Ways and Means Committee found, "This will force hard-working Americans to purchase government-mandated insurance in government-run exchanges or pay a penalty."

As the Washington Examiner's Philip Klein observed Tuesday, the Unaffordable Care Act will drive at least 39 million people into the loving arms of the state. By 2022, Mr. Klein wrote, "3 million fewer people will have health insurance through their employers, while 17 million Americans will be added to Medicaid, and 22 million will get coverage through government-run exchanges."

Most amazing, the CBO states, "More are expected to be uninsured." While the Unaffordable Care Act will cover many Americans who lack insurance, that number is shrinking. This law, the CBO calculates, "will reduce ... the number of uninsured people by 2 million less than previously estimated." For all of its profligacy and intrusiveness, come 2022, Obamacare still will leave 27 million Americans without health insurance.

On Nov. 6, the American people can jettison this rubbish by dumping every available Democrat on Capitol Hill who voted for it. (Congressional Republicans wisely and unanimously rejected this legislative malpractice.) As for the con man who signed the Unaffordable Care Act, Mr. Obama cannot be frogmarched back to Chicago swiftly enough.

Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with Stanford's Hoover Institution.

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