July 28, 2014

jgordon's blog

The Costs Remain the Same

There has been a lot of confusion recently about whether the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the health care reform legislation passed in 2010, is now projected to cost substantially more than previously estimated.

The short answer is no -- the costs are still tracking pretty closely to the trajectory projected by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in 2010. The main reasons for the recent confusion involve a new estimate from the CBO and the fact that it has been two years since the legislation passed, putting us two years closer to the time it will be fully implemented.

Amid Misguided Debate, Misconceptions About Independent Health Care Board Abound

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A shorter version of this column is featured on CNNMoney.com.

It is often said that the most expensive piece of medical equipment is the doctor’s pen. Unfortunately, after more than two years of intense debate about health care costs in Washington, politicians still seem stuck debating who should pay for the pen instead of focusing on how to make the pen less expensive.

An Update on Ryan's Dilemma

Budget-watchers in Washington are quite interested in how Republican Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, will write a budget that will achieve the numerous and sometimes conflicting aims of his conference.

With Medicare, You Get Substantially More Than You Pay For

Urban Institute scholar Gene Steuerle has run the numbers and found that for Medicare, retirees are getting a really good deal.

In a fascinating set of calculations, Steuerle and colleague Stephanie Rennane, looked at both Social Security and Medicare and estimated the levels of benefits relative to taxes (and premiums for Medicare) paid for many different levels of income and years of retirement.

From a Budgetary Perspective, the Health Care Individual Mandate is Not Severable

The legal term severable normally gets little notice outside the world of constitutional law -- yet now it has become a big buzzword amongst health care analysts and federal budget wonks. The reason has to do with the numerous legal challenges to the Accountable Care Act's individual mandate to purchase health insurance. 

New Report on Health Care Reform: Small Increase in Spending, Large Increase in Uncertainty

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently updated its estimate of National Health Spending. This unusual mid-year update, delivered in an article in Health Affairs, reflects changes due to the passage of the health care reform law in March, along with a few smaller legislative changes since then.

New CBO numbers, and a "Concord Plausible Baseline" to go with them

Today we updated our "Plausible Baseline" to take into account the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)'s latest Budget and Economic Analysis.

Our press release, "Concord Coalition Says CBO Report Shows Need to Re-examine Fiscal Priorities," is here.

Round Two for Jack Lew

Last week President Obama nominated Jacob “Jack” Lew to be the new head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), replacing Peter Orszag, who is stepping down at the end of July. OMB is primarily responsible for developing the President’s budget.

If confirmed by the Senate, as expected, Lew will become OMB director for the second time. He served as President Clinton’s director from 1998 through the end of the Clinton administration in 2001.

Congress might pass a bill to increase the deficit by over $4 trillion

Imagine if Congress held a vote in the next few months on a bill that cut nearly $3.7 trillion in income taxes, added $350 billion worth of loopholes and deductions to the tax code, and increased Medicare spending by $236 billion.

There might be quite an uproar. After all, we are experiencing the largest deficits in history with increasing awareness of our clearly unsustainable long-term outlook.

How and when to get "Back in Black"

A Washington Post editorial today sums up a bunch of different strands of thinking about the federal budget that Concord has been writing about and talking about a lot recently.