The Cost of Obamacare Has Gone Down, Not Up

| Thu Mar. 15, 2012 11:41 AM PDT

Republicans rushed to the microphones today to announce that new projections show that Obamacare will break the bank. In fact, says Fox News, a CBO reports says that it will cost "twice as much as the original $900 billion price tag."

You will be unsurprised to learn that this is not true. As Jon Cohn patiently explains here, the previous CBO report estimated the costs of expanded insurance coverage between 2012-21. The new report covers 2012-22. In other words, the new report includes an extra year compared to the previous one. That's the main reason that costs are higher.

In fact, CBO is quite clear on what an apples-to-apples comparison shows:

The current estimate of the gross costs of the coverage provisions ($1,496 billion through 2021) is about $50 billion higher than last year’s projection; however, the other budgetary effects of those provisions, which partially offset those gross costs, also have increased in CBO and JCT’s estimates (to $413 billion), leading to the small decrease in the net 10-year tally.

As Table 1 shows, if you compare the original 2012-21 time period, CBO's new estimate of the cost of Obamacare is $48 billion less than it was last year. (The report estimates only the cost of expanded insurance coverage under Obamacare, not the entire set of costs and revenues. So the total impact on the deficit hasn't yet been updated.)

Moral of this story: Never believe anything that Republicans say about Obamacare until you check out the source yourself. But you already knew that.

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