Another Estimate Of The Kennedy Health Care Bill

Another new score of the health care bill that will feature Sen. Ted Kennedy's name concludes that it will achieve its goal of providing nearly every American with health insurance, but not without significant costs.

The report, by HSI, a private health care consultancy, was obtained by the Atlantic from a Congressional source.

HSI estimates that 99% of Americans would have health insurance if the full provisions of the bill are made law. HSI, which has done work for insurance companies and for the presidential campaign of Sen, John McCain, also estimates that, with a so-called "public plan" attached, 78 million Americans would abandon their private health insurance plan for the public plan, which would pay providers using the Medicare-rate-plus-ten percent formula.

The group used the ACROLA method to score the plan, which, I confess, I don't know much about but which seems to be reliable, if broad.

I'm going to give short notice only to the HSI score of the cost of the plan -- $4 trillion over ten years --, in part because the draft released by the HELP committee doesn't include a number of revenue-enhancing or saving measures that we know will be included. Still, HSI estimates that ending the employer-sponsored health care tax exclusion would save, at most, $300 billion over ten years. That's the normal estimate.

So how does HSI get $4 trillion?  They're assuming that the bill ultimately subsidizes premiums for Americans making up to 500% of the poverty level, and that the public plan is robust and well-utilized.

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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