In an arrogant and somewhat bizarre display of disinformation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is feeding local news sources with “new reports” about health insurance “reform.”
Local stories have started appearing, citing new reports from HHS. A story out of northwest Indiana, for example, cites “… a report released Monday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.” Given the Senate vote last Saturday, HHS clearly wants to create the impression that good news is just around the corner as a result of the legislation itself.
The credibility problem for HHS is that “the reports” are not based on the actual legislation. “The reports” consist of recycled data released last May before legislation was even introduced and subsequently released in a study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute, The Cost of Failure to Enact Health Reform: Implications for States. HHS has merely extracted data provided by Urban for each state and repackaged it for local consumption.
The dire views of analysts at liberal think tanks on the rising cost of health care without reform, of course, are incomplete: the higher costs are indeed made even worse by the massive legislation before the Congress. Total health care spending will be higher according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a branch of HHS which has the power to issue independent reports. The legislation does not lower costs, it merely shifts costs around to different sources of payment. Preventive care for seniors is not “free” as HHS alleges. Someone has to pay for it.
Moreover, the legislation will actually turn out worse for the states than under the status quo. For example, Urban predicts that without reform, “… spending on public programs will balloon …” and “… every state would see its Medicaid/CHIP spending rise …”. Well, well. But, of course, the actual legislation forces states to increase their Medicaid/SCHIP spending more than under current law. Under the House version, figures provided by the Chief Actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) show that state spending for Medicaid/SCHIP will increase 157 percent between 2010 and 2019.
The American people do want and expect real reform. They are right. And that is why Congress should press the rest button, and start over.