National Debt Clock

Thursday, September 10, 2009

'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.

"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.

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

"I don't know what government program is self-sufficient," Moffit told "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."

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