Oh, you know this will end up being a lowball figure:
Health policy experts say guaranteeing coverage for all Americans may cost about $1.5 trillion over the next decade. That would be more than double the $634 billion ‘down payment’ President Barack Obama set aside for health reform in his budget.
About 48 million people are uninsured, and the problem is only expected to get worse because the cost of coverage keeps rising.
Still, administration officials have pointedly avoided providing a ballpark estimate for Obama’s fix, saying it depends on details to be worked out with Congress.
“It’s impossible to put a price tag on the plan before even the basics have been finalized,” said White House spokesman Reid Cherlin. “Here’s what we do know: The reserve fund in the president’s budget is fully paid for and provides a substantial down payment on the cost of the reforming our health care system.”
The potential for runaway costs is raising concerns among Republicans and some Democrats as Congress prepares to draft next year’s budget.
As with the Crap Sandwich and every subsequent massive spending plan, the number-crunchers are simply pulling numbers from their you-know-wheres:
John Sheils, a senior vice president of the Lewin Group, said about $1.5 trillion to $1.7 trillion would be a credible estimate for a plan that commits the nation to covering all its citizens. That would amount to around 4 percent of projected health care costs over the next 10 years, he added.
The cost of covering the uninsured is “a difficult hurdle to get over,” Sheils said in an interview.
“I don’t know where the rest of the money is going to come from,” he added.
Some of the leading advocates of coverage for all use cost estimates around $1.5 trillion.
“Honestly … we can’t do it for the $634 billion the president put in the reserve fund,” John Rother, public policy director for AARP, told an insurance industry meeting in Washington last week.
“In all likelihood, it will be over $1 trillion,” he added, citing his own estimate of $1.5 trillion.
But hey, if the White House puts Michelle Obama in charge of a nationwide patient-dumping scheme, they may be able to save a few million give or take.