Kennedy’s health plan could cost $1 trillion

A Senate panel proposal to expand healthcare coverage would increase the federal deficit by about $1 trillion over 10 years and still leave millions without insurance, a congressional analysis said on Monday.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said its calculations were preliminary and stressed that the Democratic-sponsored legislation was still being drafted.

But its estimates could fuel opposition to President Barack Obama’s drive for healthcare reform, which critics fear would result in an expensive government takeover of the U.S. healthcare system.

White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement that the proposal is neither the administration’s bill nor the Senate panel’s final version and warned against letting "political posturing stand in the way of reform."

There are now an estimated 46 million people in the United States without any health insurance, and devising a way to get them coverage has become a major goal of Obama’s presidency.

In a letter to Senator Edward Kennedy, chairman of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and author of the plan, the non-partisan CBO estimated that once the reform plan was fully implemented about 39 million people would get coverage through new insurance exchanges — a kind of clearinghouse for medical plans.

Individuals and small businesses would be able to shop in the exchanges for policies offered by insurance companies. Obama and fellow Democrats hope that a new, government-run plan would be one of those options.

But the CBO also said the number of people who receive coverage through an employer, currently the main provider for health benefits for most Americans, would fall by about 15 million, or 10 percent. And the number of people covered by government programs would fall about eight million as they move into policies offered through exchanges, the CBO said.

The CBO concluded that under the Kennedy plan, "the net decrease in the number of uninsured people would be about 16 million" — far short of Obama’s goal to provide healthcare coverage to all Americans.

Kennedy spokesman Anthony Coley said in a release: "As the CBO letter indicates, this is an incomplete statement of an incomplete bill. We look forward to a complete CBO estimate of a complete bill."

The CBO analyzed only the provisions of Kennedy’s proposal, unveiled just last week. The Senate Finance Committee, however, is charged with finding ways to pay for it and is still developing proposals.

Obama has said any healthcare reform bill that Congress sends him must be fully paid for and not increase the deficit. One revenue-raising proposal being considered would tax some of the health insurance provided to workers by their employers.

While the CBO estimated the $1 trillion price tag over 10 years, it cautioned that the impact of a number of provisions remained uncertain.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, one of several congressional committees drafting legislation, said its proposal would change the way doctors are reimbursed under the Medicare program for the elderly, something physicians’ associations have been pushing for.

The committee said its new formula would dramatically alter the way most doctors are reimbursed and would cost the federal government less than $300 billion over 10 years.

The doctors’ reimbursement issue has been a major concern in the Medicare program, which will play an important role in driving cost savings throughout the U.S. medical system under the reform plan.


  1. barak

    It is OK to spend trillions on wars, but not ok to spend one trillion on health care.

    What is wrong with that thought? Is it better to kill and keep the population down than to let people die from lack of treatment because they cannot afford healthcare? Some would say “Same/Same!” Others would choose one side or another and rant and rave when their opposition makes statements regardless of how stupid they are–or aren’t.

    I think we need some good old fashioned nuclear wars in which we obliterate some countries from the face of the earth. We can’t do the Saudis because they ease our pains re fossil fuels. Same with Iran. We made sure the oil kept pumping when we nailed Iraq, so that leaves Afghanistan, which has too few people to make a difference, Pakistan which would wipe out the future for convenient stores and taxis in America, and North Korea, a prime candidate. China would also be a great candidate except for the fact that they can hit back pretty hard, but given the huge debt we owe them, it would make a lot of sense to have a good war with China and seize all their assets in the USA.

    We could take out Vietnam, but that’s only 85 million. North Korea, with nuclear fallout wiping out South Korea and parts of Japan are the logical targets. We should be able to kill at least 2 billion, so maybe we need to throw in a pandemic but a better one than the H1N1 that never really got going. Smallpox would be good as most countries have stopped vaccinating against Smallpox and lots of people would die.

    So in lieu of health care, we invest a mere $50 to $100,000,000 and come up with some cool and sophisticated germ warfare. Then we could invent a cure and sell enough to make back all our investments.

    Sure beats spending all that dough on HEALTHCARE.

  2. bryan mcclellan

    Hold on ,Monsanto has developed a hog with tomatoes growing out of his ears.

    But they blew up the Earth to do it. Sad..

  3. Siannan

    “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had
    better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

    Charles Dickens.

  4. Concerned Citizen

    As politically unpopular as it may be, real solutions to America’s crisis MUST concentrate on fundamental cost reductions. Private insurance is a multi-billion dollar zero value band aid that does not solve our underlying problems – inefficient distribution of services, poor quality control, and a profit driven industry dominated by self interest entrepreneurs and insurance middlemen. Healthcare must once again refocus to efficiently deliver high quality medical and dental services – PERIOD. Other countries offer innovative examples to consider, and many U.S. non-profit models already point the way. We can no longer tolerate exclusive business contracts between profit center “providers” (formally called doctors and hospitals), grossly inflated pharmaceuticals, an artificially constricted supply of family practitioners, policy agendas written by campaign contributors, and revolving door regulators. Otherwise, despite unlimited taxpayer funding, American healthcare will continue to rank 43rd in performance, and No. 1 in cost.

  5. bryan mcclellan

    I think that,
    we think that,
    we think that we need to think, that,
    we need a Doctor for eeeeevvvvverything.

    An old milk cow stripped the hide off my Mothers ankle, she had me smear Bag Balm on it, wrap a cotton diaper around it and finished the milking while Dad was out plowing and I made myself busy chucking hay into the manger.

    Take two aspirin and be ready to go in the morning.

  6. almandine

    Finally !

    A return to sanity.

    As old Mr. Schultz told his son Stevie after the boy had gashed his underarm 123 stitches worth while riding his dirt bike in the woods – heck, Stevie, I had worse that than on my ass during the war and never told a soul!

  7. Hoosier_CowBoy

    When the true health care numbers are added up, the picture is terrifying.
    We can’t afford not to reform the system, because it is eating our economy alive.
    Who would want to invest in anything in America when your profits are eaten up by the health care monster?
    Your company can’t afford to give you health insurance, and by God , you sure can’t afford it. If you would actually venture into the private system, expect to pay for a plan that won’t cover you.
    Our economy will not recover until the health care problem is resolved, because health care consumes so much of the available resources in our economy it’s like a rabbit waiting for a flower to pop up out of the ground.
    If its not done now, it never will, and the US will slip into a permanenet recession , and take the world with it.

    For too long, the medical profession has been considered a privedged class, promoted by the brainwashing of a corporate media.

    Its time to rescind the priveledges of that caste.

    I essence, the US health care systems performance by any accepted measure is less than expectations, to the point of being abyssmal.

  8. griff

    That’s the answer – spend more on government inefficiency and waste. Once again we fail to ponder what worked so well before the government got involved in healthcare, we just go along with the idea that the government is both capable and interested in doing anything other than securing profits and protection for their buddies.

  9. jhon

    That’s the add – spend supplementary on containment inefficiency besides waste.Bariatric Surgery Mexico Once also we evade to ruminate what worked so purely before the oversight got entangled network health care, we germane experiment along with the reliance that the clout is both powerhouse also drawn fix evidence subject contra distinct than securing profits also lee owing to their buddies.