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'Public Option' Unlimited But Paid For, Leaving Number-Crunchers Perplexed
Health care policy researchers are contradicting President Obama's claim that a government-run health insurance program would be self-sufficient and could rely on premiums, saying it's not possible to insure up to 30 million people with better coverage and reduce costs at the same time.

FOXNews.com

Thursday, September 10, 2009

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/09/10/obamas-case-public-option-holes-analysts-say/?loomia_ow=t0:s0:a16:g2:r5:c0.086193:b27646680:z0
Health care policy researchers are contradicting President Obama's claim that a government-run health insurance program would be self-sufficient and could rely on premiums, saying it's not possible to insure up to 30 million people with better coverage and reduce costs at the same time.

"The numbers don't hold up," Grace Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, a think tank devoted to health policy, said Thursday.

In his case to the joint session of Congress Wednesday night, Obama cited the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to contend that less than 5 percent of Americans would sign up for a so-called public option.

The July report by the CBO projected that 6 million people would enroll in a government-run program, considerably fewer than the 100 million estimated by The Lewin Group, a health care policy research group, or the 47 million predicted by the left-leaning Urban Institute.

The CBO offered its figure as part of an evaluation of one of the four congressional health bills floating through Congress right now. Asked whether a public plan would draw a significant number of Americans covered by private insurance, the congressional budget arm acknowledged that larger companies were not included in the assumptions.

The CBO added that because several factors are uncertain, "estimating enrollment in the public plan is especially difficult."

Speaking Thursday, Obama repeated his claim that the cost of the plan -- estimated at $900 billion over 10 years -- will not add to the deficit. He also said that slowing the growth of health care costs will reduce the deficit by $4 trillion "over the long term."

"That's real money," he said of the $90 billion per year price tag. "But it's far less than we've spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars."

At a separate event, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters that half the bill "will be paid for by squeezing excesses out of the system" by finding $500 billion in reduced waste, fraud, abuse and redundancy. The rest will be paid for in pay-as-you-go funding and cuts in other spending.

"Squeeze it out of the system, and that means out of the providers and the rest as well," she said.

She added that despite the price tag, there's no limit on the help people will receive.

"There's a cap on what you pay in in premiums. There's no cap on what you receive back," Pelosi added.

Turner said a self-sustaining model will depend, among other things, on the cost of the premiums and who's eligible. She added that in his assessment, the president doesn't account for the initial $7 billion to $8 billion of taxpayer money it may cost to launch the plan or whether taxpayers would bail out the public plan if it falls into financial trouble.

"There's too many unknowns to make a claim like that," she said of the president's estimates.

The renewed push for new health care legislation came as the Census Bureau reported Thursday that the number of people without health insurance rose to 46.3 million in 2008, up from 45.7 million in 2007. The bureau's total was attributed to a continuing erosion of employer-provided insurance as a result of job losses. The number also includes illegal immigrants whom Obama insists are not covered under his proposed plan.

Robert Moffit, director of the Center of Health Policy Study at the conservative Heritage Foundation, expressed doubt that a public plan would or could be self-reliant.

"I don't know what government program is self-sufficient," Moffit told FOXNews.com. "It's conceivable. It's theoretically possible. You can imagine an alternative universe not run by [Democratic House leaders] Henry Waxman, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer where such a thing exists. But on planet Earth, it's highly unlikely."

Moffit also questioned the purpose of having a public plan if less than 5 percent of Americans enrolled.

"Why would we need it?" he asked. "You're not keeping private insurers honest. At the end of the day, that is the elephant giving birth to the flea."

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"...saying it's not possible to insure up to 30 million people with better coverage and reduce costs at the same time.
" /// This is so obviously true it amazes me that anyone (but a moron) refuses to admit it.

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