Budget office: Obama's health law reduces deficit

July 25, 2012 by ANDREW TAYLOR
In this Jan. 27, 2010 file photo, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Douglas Elmendorf testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. Will President Barack Obama’s health care law increase the government’s huge deficit or reduce it? How many people will it really cover? How much will it cost taxpapers? Congress’ nonpartisan budget scorekeepers release their findings, the first in-depth look at the law since the Supreme Court ruled it constitutional. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

(AP) — President Barack Obama's health care overhaul will shrink rather than increase America's huge federal deficits over the next decade, Congress' nonpartisan budget scorekeepers said Tuesday, supporting Obama's contention in a major election-year dispute with Republicans.

About 3 million fewer uninsured people will gain health coverage because of last month's ruling granting states more leeway to opt out, and that will cut the federal costs by $84 billion, the Congressional Budget Office said in the biggest changes from earlier estimates.

Republicans have insisted that "Obamacare" will actually raise deficits — by "trillions," according to presidential candidate Mitt Romney. But that's not so, the budget office said.

The office gave no updated estimate for total deficit reductions from the law, approved by Congress and signed by Obama in 2010. But it did estimate that Republican legislation to repeal the overhaul — passed recently by the House — would itself boost the deficit by $109 billion from 2013 to 2022.

"Repealing the ( law) will lead to an increase in budget deficits over the coming decade, though a smaller one than previously reported," budget office director Douglas Elmendorf said in a letter to Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

The law's mix of spending cuts and tax increases would more than offset new spending to cover uninsured people, Elmendorf explained.

Tuesday's budget projections were the first since the Supreme Court upheld most of the law last month but gave states the option of rejecting a planned expansion of federal Medicaid coverage for their low-income residents. As a consequence, the budget office said the law will cover fewer uninsured people.

President Barack Obama waves upon his arrival, Tuesday, July 24, 2012, at the 142nd Fighter Wing Oregon Air National Guard Base, in Portland, Ore. President Barack Obama has arrived in Oregon to raise money for his re-election campaign. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Thirty million uninsured people will be covered by 2022, or about 3 million fewer than projected this spring before the court ruling, the report said.

As a result, taxpayers will save about $84 billion from 2012 to 2022. That brings the total cost of expanding coverage down to $1.2 trillion, from about $1.3 trillion in the previous estimate.

The Congressional Budget Office has consistently projected that Obama's overhaul will reduce the deficit.

When the health care law is fully in effect, 92 percent of U.S. citizens and legal residents are estimated to have coverage, as compared to 81 percent now.

Democrats hailed Tuesday's estimates as vindication for the president. "This confirms what we've been saying all along: the Affordable Care Act saves lots of money," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Republicans said they remain unswervingly committed to repealing what they dismiss as "Obamacare." Romney says if elected he will begin to dismantle the law his first day in office.

In this Feb. 17, 2012 file photo, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. David Camp, R-Mich. walks to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington. Will President Barack Obama’s health care law increase the government’s huge deficit or reduce it? How many people will it really cover? How much will it cost taxpapers? Congress’ nonpartisan budget scorekeepers release their findings, the first in-depth look at the law since the Supreme Court ruled it constitutional. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Medicaid has been one big question hanging over the future of Obama's law since the Supreme Court ruled.

Some Repubican-led states, such as Texas and Florida, say they will not go forward with the expansion. Others are uncommitted, awaiting the voters' verdict on Obama in November.

Although the federal government would bear all of the initial cost of that expansion, many states would have to open their Medicaid programs to low-income childless adults for the first time.

CBO analysts did not try to predict which specific states would jump in and which would turn down the Medicaid expansion. Instead, they assumed that many states would eventually cut deals with the federal government to expand their programs to some degree.

The big coverage expansion under the doesn't start until 2014, with middle-class uninsured people signing up for subsidized private plans and more low-income people picked up through Medicaid.

Explore further: US high court upholds heart of Obama health law

shares

Related Stories

US high court upholds heart of Obama health law

June 27, 2012
(AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the heart of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, handing him a huge election-year political victory and keeping in force the legislative centerpiece of his ...

Gov. Perry says Texas won't expand Medicaid

July 10, 2012
(AP) — The Republican governor of Texas said Monday that his state won't establish an online marketplace for patients to shop for insurance or expand the government health care program for the poor and disabled — ...

Top US court to announce fate of Obama health plan

June 28, 2012
(AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court was expected to decide the fate Thursday morning of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, a ruling that could touch the lives of virtually every American and mark a pivotal point ...

US High court upholds key part of Obama health law

June 28, 2012
(AP) — The US Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the individual insurance requirement at the heart of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

US Supreme Court sets hearings on Obama health reform

December 19, 2011
The US Supreme Court will hear evidence challenging President Barack Obama's health care reform -- which has come under fire from Republicans -- over three days in March, a spokeswoman said Monday.

Recommended for you

Higher levels of fluoride in pregnant woman linked to lower intelligence in their children

September 20, 2017
Fluoride in the urine of pregnant women shows a correlation with lower measures of intelligence in their children, according to University of Toronto researchers who conducted the first study of its kind and size to examine ...

India has avoided 1 million child deaths since 2005, new study concludes

September 19, 2017
India has avoided about 1 million deaths of children under age five since 2005, driven by significant reductions in mortality from pneumonia, diarrhea, tetanus and measles, according to new research published today.

Gulf spill oil dispersants associated with health symptoms in cleanup workers

September 19, 2017
Workers who were likely exposed to dispersants while cleaning up the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill experienced a range of health symptoms including cough and wheeze, and skin and eye irritation, according to scientists ...

Study suggests link between youth football and later-life emotional, behavioral impairment

September 19, 2017
A new study has found an association between participation in youth tackle football before age 12 and impaired mood and behavior later in life. The study appears in Nature's Translational Psychiatry.

Self-confidence affected by teammates, study finds

September 19, 2017
A person's confidence in their own ability varies significantly depending on who is in their team, according to new research from the University of Stirling.

Video game boosts sex health IQ and attitudes in minority teens

September 18, 2017
A videogame designed by Yale researchers to promote health and reduce risky behavior in teens improves sexual health knowledge and attitudes among minority youth, according to a new study. The findings validate the value ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Birger
5 / 5 (1) Jul 25, 2012
Cue for deniers to turn up...
"Nothing the Kenyan Impersonator does can be good, so this estimate must be part of the Big Conspiracy!"

"Congress nonpartisan budget scorekeepers" No, they must be taken over by Alien mind parasites! No non-partisan people could ever disagree with my world-view (sarcasm).

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.