Obama Disputes New Cost Claim

While waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on the 2010 health care law — probably in June — the Obama administration and its critics continue to battle over the true costs of the landmark plan.

A Republican member of the board that oversees Medicare is issuing a report today saying the health care law will add $340 billion to budget deficits over the next decade, reports The Washington Post.

Charles Blahous, appointed by President Obama as the GOP trustee for Medicare and Social Security, says some of the law’s purported revenue and savings will flow into the Medicare hospitalization fund.

That money, the Post reports, “must be used to pay years of additional benefits to those who are already insured. That means those savings would not be available to pay for expanding coverage for the uninsured.”

Blahous, a former George W. Bush administration official and senior research fellow at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, said in an interview: “Does the health-care act worsen the deficit? The answer, I think, is clearly that it does.”

He added: “If one asserts that this law extends the solvency of Medicare, then one is affirming that this law adds to the deficit. Because the expansion of the Medicare trust fund and the creation of the new subsidies together create more spending than existed under prior law.”

The White House quickly denounced Blahous’ “new math.”

“In another attempt to re-fight the battles of the past, one former Bush administration official is wrongly claiming that some of the savings in the Affordable Care Act are ‘double-counted’ and that the law actually increases the deficit,” said Jeanne Lambrew, a deputy assistant to the president for health policy. “This claim is false.”

Writes Lambrew on the White House blog:

“According to the official Administration and Congressional scorekeepers, the Affordable Care Act will reduce the deficit: its costs are more than fully paid for. The Office of Management and Budget and Congressional Budget Office project lower Federal budget deficits as a result of the law.”

Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for Obama’s re-election campaign, pointed out that Blahous works for a policy center that received money from major Republican donor, Charles Koch.

“This politicized ‘report,’ which brings a whole new meaning to fuzzy math, was produced not to provide independent analysis but in order to give Republicans an election year talking point no matter how discredited it is,” LaBolt said.