Although the CBO is a non-partisan office, the numbers it comes up with regarding the financial impacts of legislation tend to be dismissed or lauded largely along party lines. House Republicans are planning a vote next week to repeal the PPACA, and have been critical of the new CBO estimate that repealing the health care reform law would add $230 billion to the federal deficit over the next ten years and increase the number of uninsured Americans by 30 million over that time (compared with the number who would be uninsured if the current reform law remains in place).
Political analysts generally agree that a repeal vote in the House is likely to pass, but much less likely to clear the Senate. If it did, it would be virtually impossible to override a presidential veto. So the vote next week is basically symbolic – which can also be looked at as a waste of congressional time and resources. A more productive solution (that might also be able to make it through the entire legislative process) might be to start looking for ways to significantly reduce the actual cost of health care. In Colorado, the Division of Insurance has noted that the double digit health insurance premiums hikes for 2011 (similar to the rate increases we’ve seen now for several years in a row) have very little to do with health care reform legislation, and a lot to do with the rising cost of health care. Rather than adding new expenses to our health care system, the focus should be on finding ways to continue to provide quality care for a lower price. Instead of tearing down the PPACA (which includes several very popular provisions, along with the not-so-popular individual mandate), the 2011 congress might make more progress by working to create measures that can exist alongside the new law in order to bring costs under control and make health care an affordable reality for the American people.