America's Health Insurance Plans has been circulating a new study that claims the Senate Finance Committee's health reform bill will raise costs over time--more so than under current law--and Democrats are not happy about it. The White House and the Finance Committee's Democratic office have accused it of skewed results for dishonest, political purposes.
"This is the type of self-serving and shoddy analysis you get from industry sponsored research," Office of Management and Budget spokesman Kenneth Baer said, echoing the White House message.
The study, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, claims that single insurance coverage would be $1,500 more expensive on average in 2019 than under the current plan ($9,700 vs. $8,200), while family insurance coverage would cost $4,000 more ($25,900 vs. $21,900).
But it doesn't actually look at the whole bill, and this is part of what the administration is displeased with. As stated in the study, it only looks at four provisions of the Baucus bill, namely:
- Insurance market reforms and consumer protections that would raise health insurance premiums for individuals and families if the reforms are not coupled with an effective coverage requirement.
- An excise tax on employer-sponsored high value health plans (or "Cadillac plans") that in a few years could also raise premiums for some moderate value plans.
- Cuts in payment rates in public programs that could increase cost shifting to private sector businesses and consumers. These changes are expected to more than offset the potential reduction in cost shifting resulting from providing coverage to the uninsured.
- New taxes on health sector entities that are likely to be passed through to consumers.
"They ignore tons of different key points of the policy," a White House official said. Among them: subsidies for people who need help buying insurance.
Ezra Klein calls it deceptive, and Jonathan Cohn points out some things PricewaterhouseCoopers missed at The New Republic; he decides the insurance companies have a point in raising a ruckus about the Baucus bill, but that it's hard to say whether the new study should be taken at its word.
But at this point, Democrats clearly are not big fans.