The Obama administration's chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) notified Republican leaders Saturday that the "very tight time frame" and "complexity" of the Democrats' health spending bill would prevent them from fully analyzing the costs and efficacy of the bill before the House voted on the legislation. The letter was in response to a request from House and Senate Republicans.
The Chief Actuary, Richard S. Foster, wrote: "In your letter, you requested that we provide the updated actuarial estimates in time for your review prior to the expected House debate and vote on this legislation on March 21,2010. I regret that my staff and I will not be able to prepare our analysis within this very tight time frame, due to the complexity of the legislation."
Foster and his staff analyzed the Senate-passed bill and determined that it bent the cost curve up, estimating in a January 8 report that national health expenditures would increase by an estimated total of $222 billion, and that the additional demand for health services "could be difficult to meet" and "could lead to price increases, cost-shifting, and/or changes in providers' willingness to treat patients with low-reimbursement health coverage." Foster, in his letter today, expects the new health spending bill to be "generally similar."
House Republican Leader John Boehner said: "The House of Representatives should not vote blindly on an issue that is so important to every American. We deserve to have all the facts about how much this bill raise health care costs before we vote. The decision to press ahead and jam this bill down the throats of the American people is just one more example of arrogance and irresponsibility from Washington Democrats."
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said: "Americans deserve to have a full analysis of this bill, but won't because of the mad dash forced by the Democrat leaders in the House. We now know that even the Obama administration's chief actuary predicts more government spending, more price increases for consumers and less care for low-income patients. This debate was supposed about lowering costs for Americans not making things worse."
The letter to CMS was signed by McConnell, House Republican Leader John Boehner, Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl, House Republican Whip Eric Cantor, Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Judd Gregg, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Charles Grassley, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Ranking Member Mike Enzi, House Budget Committee Ranking Member Paul Ryan, House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Dave Camp, House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Joe Barton, and House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member John Kline.