Health Care Provisions of Democratic Spending Bill Would Add More than $500 Billion to the Deficit
The massive Democratic spending package now working its way through Congress is not, strictly speaking, a health care bill. But it’s not not a health care bill, either. Many of its biggest, most expensive provisions are expansions of government-run or federally subsidized health care programs. Those provisions represent the largest expansion of federal health care spending since Obamacare.
And now we have a much better sense of just how big and costly some of those expansions would be. Just two provisions alone would cost about $533 billion, according to a new analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
The first provision is a further expansion of Obamacare’s subsidies for private insurance, at a cost of $209.5 billion. A temporary, two-year version of this expansion, which boosts subsidies for people earning less than 400 percent of the poverty line and opens up subsidies to people making more than that, already appeared in the $2 trillion American Rescue Plan that Democrats passed earlier this year; the reconciliation bill would extend the larger subsidies.
Not only would this be expensive, as health policy consultant and former Trump administration economic adviser Brian Blase points out, CBO’s analysis suggests that the majority of the beneficiaries would be people who already have health coverage: About 2 million of the 3.4 million people projected to move onto coverage through Obamacare’s health exchanges already have some sort of insurance. M
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