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CBO Chief Criticizes Democrats’ Health Reform Measures

Director Says Proposed Changes Would Weaken Economy

 Instead of saving the federal government from fiscal catastrophe, the health reform measures being drafted by congressional Democrats would worsen an already bleak budget outlook, increasing deficit projections and driving the nation more deeply into debt, the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said this morning.

Under questioning by members of the Senate Budget Committee, CBO director Douglas Elmendorf said bills crafted by House leaders and the Senate health committee do not propose “the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a signficant amount.”

“On the contrary,” Elmendorf said, “the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health care costs.”

Though President Obama and Democratic leaders have said repeatedly that reining in the skyrocketing growth in spending on giovernment health programs such as Medicaid and Medicare is their top priority, the reform measures put forth so far would not fulfill their pledge to “bend the cost curve” downward, Elmendorf said. Instead, he said, “The curve is being raised.”

The CBO is the official arbiter of the costs of legislation, and Elmendorf’s stark testimony is certain to undermine support for the measures even as three House panels begin debate and aim to put a bill on the House floor before the August recess. Fiscal conservatives in the House, known as the Blue Dogs, were already threatening to block passage of legislation in the Energy and Commerce Committee, primarily due to concerns about the long-term costs of the House bill.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/07/16/AR2009071602242.html?hpid=topnews

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July 16, 2009 - Posted by | Cost, Federal Government, healthcare | , , ,

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