USA Today falsely claims "estimated cost of a health care overhaul" is $1 trillion

››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

A USA Today article reported that some elderly opponents of health care reform "fear the estimated cost of a health care overhaul, generally pegged for the first 10 years at $1 trillion, would lead to cuts" in Medicare, and then quoted "a former state representative" saying, "It's going to bankrupt this country." In fact, contrary to the article's claim that health care reform would "cost" $1 trillion, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has found that the only complete bill to be given a cost estimate "would result in a net increase in the federal budget deficit of $239 billion over the 2010-2019 period."

From the August 12 USA Today article:

Many of the opponents [at President Obama's August 11 town hall meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire] were elderly people on Medicare who fear the estimated cost of a health care overhaul, generally pegged for the first 10 years at $1 trillion, would lead to cuts in the popular program. "We don't have any money," said Sam Cataldo, 72, a former state representative. "It's going to bankrupt this country."

Despite lower CBO estimate, media repeatedly claim House health bill would "cost" $1 trillion

CBO estimated House health care reform bill would increase deficit by $239 billion -- not $1 trillion. In its July 17 cost estimate of the bill as introduced, CBO explained that its "estimate reflects a projected 10-year cost of the bill's insurance coverage provisions of $1,042 billion, partly offset by net spending changes that CBO estimates would save $219 billion over the same period, and by revenue provisions that [the Joint Committee on Taxation] estimates would increase federal revenues by about $583 billion over those 10 years." CBO thus concluded the legislation "would result in a net increase in the federal budget deficit of $239 billion over the 2010-2019 period."

Numerous media figures and outlets falsely claim bill would cost $1 trillion. In an August 3 article, the Associated Press falsely claimed that "even the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says" health reform bills "with the elements Obama wants would add around $1 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years." On the August 2 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, NPR's Mara Liasson asserted that the House bill "has a $1 trillion price tag over 10 years," and host Chris Wallace replied by suggesting that Liasson's statement was "true." During the July 27 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, CNBC host Maria Bartiromo falsely asserted that the health care reform proposal under consideration in Congress would cost a "trillion dollars over 10 years." A July 28 New York Times article falsely reported that the House health care reform bill is estimated to cost "$1 trillion over 10 years." During the July 29 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Fox News political contributor Karl Rove claimed that House Democrats were "planning on a 1 trillion, 420 billion -- 420 million dollar price tag of additional spending over the next 10 years."

USA Today identifies man warning of national bankruptcy only as a "former state representative"

USA Today did not note that Cataldo is a Republican. Cataldo, who USA Today identified as "a former state representative" and quoted as saying that health care reform is "going to bankrupt this country," served in the New Hampshire House of Representatives as a Republican. He is currently treasurer for the Strafford County Republican Committee.

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
Network/Outlet
USA Today
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