Ron Johnson Hits Back Against CBO’s Claim It Can’t Tell How Much Obamacare Costs

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Republican Sen. Ron Johnson has introduced a bill that would require the Congressional Budget Office to score Obamacare’s ultimate cost and effect on the federal deficit, after the CBO claimed earlier this week the health law had grown too complicated to score.

The “Truth in Obamacare Accounting Act” would require the CBO to continue to provide a full accounting of the Affordable Care Act’s effect on federal deficits.

“News this week has highlighted a real problem in how Congress accounts for this huge expansion of government health care spending,” Johnson said in a statement. “CBO undoubtedly faces considerable challenges in separating the impact of the law from some of the other programs that interact with it, but it can and should be able to estimate those costs and impacts so that Congress and the American people understand the true scope of financial harm that Obamacare is causing.”

The CBO, which has been rating Obamacare’s cost for years, announced in a footnote of an April report that it “can no longer determine exactly how the provisions of the ACA that are not related to the expansion of health insurance coverage have affected their projections of direct spending and revenues,” Roll Call reported Wednesday.

The abdication sparked some experts’ suspicions. Joseph Antos, a health-care expert at D.C. think tank the American Enterprise Institute, told Roll Call he doubted how the law could have changed enough since the CBO last scored its cost to make a cost analysis impossible.

“They don’t want to admit that what they assumed two years ago is no longer correct because the administration has not implemented many provisions of the law,” Antos said.

The last time the CBO estimated Obamacare’s cost, it still projected that the health-care law would reduce savings. It’s unlikely a further report would turn out the same result. The CBO has admitted in several reports over the past year that the Obama administration’s unilateral changes to the law will lower its revenue by billions.

The delay of the employer mandate will cost $3 billion in penalty payments by 2016, according to an April CBO report, and the administration’s new “hardship exemptions” will contribute to a loss of $3 billion in individual mandate penalties according to a Thursday CBO report. (RELATED: Just 13 Percent Of Uninsured To Pay Individual Mandate Fine Due To Mass Obamacare Exemptions) 

Johnson brushed aside the CBO’s claims that the law was impossible to score in his statement and reiterated how important it is for the public to get the full picture.

“The estimates related to coverage-only provisions are inadequate for assessment of a law that touches nearly every aspect of our health-care system,” Johnson said.

The Wisconsin senator noted support for requiring the CBO to estimate Obamacare’s cost, as the Senate approved his proposed amendment establishing the requirement to the Senate’s March 2013 budget.

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