AP again botched net cost of health care plan


The Associated Press again falsely reported that "[n]onpartisan budget officials" said President Obama's health care plan could "increase the federal deficit by about $1 trillion," when in fact the Congressional Budget Office 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." The Los Angeles Times and Reuters also ignored CBO's conclusion that the plan would increase the deficit by less than a quarter of the cost they reported.

AP falsehood: Budget officials say Obama's plan could "increase the federal deficit" by $1 trillion

From a September 3 AP article:

Several lawmakers say Obama must convincingly show that he can reduce the cost of pending health care plans. Nonpartisan budget officials have said Obama's proposals could increase the federal deficit by about $1 trillion over the next decade.

AP previously reported similar falsehood. On August 3, the AP reported 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."

Truth: Budget officials said House bill would increase deficit by $239 billion -- not $1 trillion

Accounting for bill's savings and revenue increases, CBO found House bill would increase the federal budget deficit by $239 billion. In its July 17 cost estimate of the House tri-committee 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." Contrary to the AP's suggestion, CBO has not released a cost estimate of "Obama's proposals." The House bill is the only complete health care reform bill CBO has scored.

From CBO's analysis of the House bill:


LA Times, Reuters also ignored CBO's conclusion that the net 10-year cost of the plan would be $239 billion

LA Times reported $1 trillion cost and Republican criticism on deficit without noting CBO's estimate. From a September 3 Los Angeles Times article:

Their own party is divided; liberals are demanding a more active role for government while moderates balk at radical change and the potential cost. Meantime, large segments of the public are uneasy about changing a system that, though troubled, continues to serve the needs of many.

To address those concerns, the administration may face compromises on several key issues:

On cost containment, with estimates that the overhaul could cost $1 trillion over 10 years, Republicans have hammered Obama on the ballooning deficit. Doing more to lower costs would require cutting back the scope of the program, which could stir anguish among the president's liberal supporters.

On Medicare, proposals to offset new expenditures by curbing outlays for the program serving the elderly have spread panic among senior citizens. Strategists say Obama must find a way to still their anxieties.

Reuters referenced "$1 trillion scheme" and concerns about deficit without noting CBO's estimate. From a September 2 Reuters article:

Obama's top domestic priority, the plan to overhaul the costly U.S. healthcare system, has drawn intense fire from opponents and cut into Obama's approval ratings as Americans worry about what the nearly $1 trillion scheme could mean for the burgeoning U.S. budget deficit.

Three bills have been approved by committees in the House of Representatives, but no Republicans have backed them. Months of Senate Finance Committee negotiations with three Republican senators have not produced a deal, signaling a nasty battle to pass a plan after Congress returns on Sept. 8 from its break.

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, Reuters
Charles Babington
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