CBO Adds Billions of Dollars for Discretionary Spending Cost Estimate

On May 11, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report with additional information about the potential effects of the new health insurance reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), on discretionary spending that the CBO initially provided on March 13, prior to the legislation being passed.

The updated analysis adds a minimum of $115 billion over 10 years – more than twice the initial estimate released before President Barack Obama signed the bill into law. This new estimate brings the cost of the new law to well over $1 trillion.

CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf stated that while the CBO does not have a comprehensive estimate of all the potential discretionary costs, they provided information on the major components broken down into three general categories:

  • Costs incurred by federal agencies to implement the new policies
  • Explicit authorizations for grant and program spending for one or more years
  • Explicit authorizations for grant and program spending for which no specific funding levels are specified

Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) immediately released a statement admonishing the Administration, saying that the new estimate “provides ample cause for alarm,” and nearly wipes out “the purported deficit reduction in the law.”

A Senate Finance Committee Democratic aide said, “The bulk of discretionary spending referenced in the report is for programs – like the Indian Health Service, the National Health Service Corps and Federally Qualified Health Centers – that were not created under health care reform and would have been funded through the appropriations process, like they have for decades, with or without health care reform.”

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