White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Friday brushed aside a report by experts at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The report found that health care spending will be increased by $311 billion over the next decade because of the bill.
Asked about the report, Gibbs said it would be seized upon by “those who opposed health-care reform … to make the same tired old arguments.”
Gibbs pointed instead to numbers produced by the Congressional Budget Office that said the bill will reduce the federal budget deficit by $143 billion over the first decade.
“I would point you to, as you all have asked me many times about CBO, I would point you to what they said about the health care bill,” Gibbs said.
The health law, he added, “will help us make progress on our deficit. It will cut costs and it will cover more people. That’s why the president pursued health care reform and that’s what the law will do.”
Asked then whether the CBO report should be given more weight than the CMS report, Gibbs said: “Most of the times you guys seem to have had.”
The CMS report found that federal spending on health care will rise by one percent over the next decade, rather than fall.
“Specifically, in 2019, health-care spending is now projected to represent 21 percent of GDP, as opposed to 20.8 percent in 2019 before the passage of the new law,” wrote Philip Klein, with the conservative American Spectator.
The CMS report also cast doubt on whether roughly $500 billion in Medicare cuts will actually take place. The cuts, in part, would have to be approved by future Congresses, making them politically unlikely.
But liberal policy blogger Ezra Klein said that the CBO report said “that federal spending is going to go up to pay for the coverage expansion, but that savings and revenue will go up by even more, leading to a net reduction in the federal deficit.”
“CMS is looking only at the spending side,” wrote Klein, with the Washington Post.
Klein’s claim depends in large part, of course, on the Medicare cuts that many believe won’t happen being enacted.
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, called the CMS report another case of “bad news that keeps on coming about this bill.”
“Our argument all along was we need to affect health care reform in a much more modest and incremental way that can be economically sustainable,” Cantor said.