"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Democrat Allies Will No Longer Defend False Claims Of Obamacare Cost Savings

August 20th, 2010 by mopns · No Comments

 Slide from  PowerPoint presentation 

Politico’s Ben Smith broke a very important story yesterday about Democrats’ messaging on their massive, unpopular health care bill. Smith reported, “Key White House allies are dramatically shifting their attempts to defend health care legislation, abandoning claims that it will reduce costs and deficit and instead stressing a promise to ‘improve it.’ The messaging shift was circulated this afternoon on a conference call and PowerPoint presentation organized by Families USA — one of the central groups in the push for the initial legislation. The call was led by a staffer for the Herndon Alliance, which includes leading labor groups and other health care allies. It was based on polling from three top Democratic pollsters: John Anzalone, Celinda Lake and Stan Greenberg.”

This alone is an amazing admission. But Smith continues, “The presentation also concedes that the fiscal and economic arguments that were the White House’s first and most aggressive sales pitch have essentially failed. ‘Many don’t believe health care reform will help the economy,’ says one slide. The presentation’s final page of ‘Don’ts’ counsels against claiming ‘the law will reduce costs and deficit.’

From the very beginning Democrats were claiming that their $2.5 trillion health care takeover would reduce health care costs. In his speech to a Joint Session of Congress demanding passage of his health care plan almost a year ago, President Obama said, “The plan I’m announcing tonight … will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.” Later in the month, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said on the floor, “What does this bill do? The basics are obvious. First,—and this is all backed up by the Congressional Budget Office—it will reduce the cost of health care.” In early March, Obama again said, “[M]y proposal would bring down the cost of health care . . . .” Some House Democrats even justified their vote for the bill in March by pointing to reduced costs.

But the whole time, even on some of the earliest versions of the bill, the fact was that Democrats’ legislation did not reduce costs, and actually increased them. As far back as October 2009, the actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), part the Obama administration’s own Health and Human Services Department, was warning that “total national health expenditures under [the House Democrats’] bill would increase.” In November, experts, including Brookings’ William Galston and former comptroller David Walker, were saying that none of the Democrat bills would control costs. At the February health care summit, Vice President Joe Biden admitted, “Unless we bend that cost curve, we’re in trouble.” But at the time, both CMS and the CBO were saying the Democrat health care bill increased costs.

And of course, since the bill was signed into law, new analyses have found that the bill increases health care costs and will save almost nothing on the deficit. In April, the AP reported, “[T]he [CMS] analysis also found that the law falls short of the president’s twin goal of controlling runaway costs, raising projected spending by about 1 percent over 10 years.” And Politico reported in May that the CBO estimates the bill will likely cost an extra $115 billion over the next decade, essentially wiping out the deficit savings the Obama administration was touting. Last month, even Erskine Bowles, the Democrat co-chair of President Obama’s fiscal commission, admitted the health care law “didn’t do a lot to address cost factors in health care.”

The American people were rightly skeptical of these claims from the beginning. An October Gallup Poll found that among those opposed to the health care bill at that point, 75% said health costs would get worse, while among those still undecided on the bill, fewer than 1 in 4 thought the bill would lower costs, and not even a majority of supporters believed the bill would reduce costs.

Americans knew better, considering the claims of cost savings were never true to begin with, and Democrats’ health care allies are now admitting those talking points have failed. And now they’re recommending that Democrats don’t even discuss them.

The false and frankly unbelievable claims on health care savings must be one of the many reasons the vast majority of Americans remains opposed to the Democrats’ health care boondoggle. A CNN poll today shows 56% oppose it, while only 40% show support, essentially unchanged from a poll taken at the time of the bill’s passage, when 59% opposed it and only 39% expressed support.

Americans rejected this bill and Democrats’ absurd claims about it all along. And all along Republicans told Democrats the American people understood that you can’t vastly expand coverage and government spending while reducing costs. This bill needs to be repealed and replaced with real solutions for bringing down the cost of health care.

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