Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Timing of Health Care Report leads to Charges of Deception

The Department of Health and Human Services has finally released its controversial report on the costs that will surround the recently passed Obamacare legislation and questions are being asked as to why it was not released earlier, when it might have made a difference during the health care debate. The simple answer is that the report would only further damage a bill that passed by the thinnest of margins and with the most questionable of means.

The American Spectator is reporting in its blog that "The economic report released last week by Health and Human Services, which indicated that President Barack Obama's health care 'reform law would actually increase the cost of health care and impose higher costs on consumers, had been submitted to the office of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius more than a week before the Congressional votes on the bill, according to career HHS sources, who added that Sebelius's staff refused to review the document before the vote was taken." The reason why they would not review it? Because they did not want the results of the report to influence the health care debate. That is very odd, considering that is the reason such reports are produced in the first place.

This should create serious problems for an administration and Congress that has pounding the "cost savings" drum since the 2008 elections. We knew that the way any savings would be obtained were unsettling. They would come through death panels and rationed care, price and regulatory controls on physicians (driving them into other professions), and reducing the rewards for the risks that comes from innovation (which means that health care progress would slow or decline). Now we see that, in spite of the fact this bill promises to turn a visit to the doctor into something that resembles a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles, we will fail to see actual savings. No wonder why the ideologues in the administration that are more interested in agendas than the public good held this information hostage until it could do little or no good. According to the American Spectator, the information about the timing of the report is from an official of HHS who is remaining nameless at this time. The report is based on the analysis performed by the Medicare's Office of the Actuary, which is described as being a "nonpolitical" office. It was certainly nonpartisan in its content, but not in its timing.

The administration and its Congressional apologists have been arguing, all along, that Obamacare would have immediate savings and, more importantly, long term cost containment. Not so, according to the analysis in the report. The Kansas City Star notes that "The report was controversial because it was a direct rebuttal of President Obama's claims that the bill would 'lower costs for families and for businesses and for the federal government.'" The Star also notes that "The report found that the law would raise costs, as many critics of ObamaCare had argued. The actuary said some parts of the bill would help lower costs, but they would be 'more than offset through 2019 by the higher health expenditures resulting from the coverage expansions.'"

This is just one more scandal that would significantly damage earlier administrations, but is simply business as usual for Obama.

Kevin Price is a syndicated columnist whose articles frequently appear at ChicagoSunTimes.com, Reuters.com, USAToday.com, and other national media. Kevin Price is also host of the Price of Business (M-F at 11 AM on CNN radio). Hear the show live and online at PriceofBusiness.com. Visit the archive of past shows here.

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