New cost projections on the House health care bill emerged today, and they're sure to become a GOP talking point within hours: The Lewin Group, a firm whose work on health care has been oft cited by Republicans from Bobby Jindal to Eric Cantor, released a 20-year projection today onĀ  H.R. 3200 that paints a not-so-rosy picture for the second decade of its reforms.

According to the study, the bill would be close to deficit neutral over its first ten years but would incur a $1.01 trillion net cost to the federal government from 2020-2029, "due to rapid growth in health care costs that will outpace the growth in incomes and revenues over the longer-term." The bill expands coverage but ultimately will lower the number of insured and increase overall costs, the group says.

Over the first decade, The Lewin Group actually gives the House proposal a better grade on cost than the Congressional Budget Office did: the CBO scored the House proposal back in July as costing $1.042 trillion from 2010-2019, while the Lewin group says it will add a net $35 billion to the deficit over that span.

The CBO only took a 10-year look at the bill, so there's no 20-year projection from the CBO to compare to Lewin's numbers.

The Lewin Group is owned, through a subsidiary, by UnitedHealth Group, one of the country's largest health insurance companies. The Washington Post reported in July:

More specifically, the Lewin Group is part of Ingenix, a UnitedHealth subsidiary that was accused by the New York attorney general and the American Medical Association, a physician's group, of helping insurers shift medical expenses to consumers by distributing skewed data. Ingenix supplied its parent company and other insurers with data that allegedly understated the "usual and customary" doctor fees that insurers use to determine how much they will reimburse consumers for out-of-network care.

Lewin Group HR 3200 projection.jpg
The Lewin Group says it maintains full editorial control over all its work. For this study, it was commissioned by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, an independent, nonpartisan group founded and chaired by the billionaire fiscal conservative who served as Commerce secretary under Nixon.

So as Republicans respond to President Obama's address to Congress tonight, and as the health care debate continues, look for a plethora of comments on health reform's 20-year costs, which The Lewin Group says will add $1.049 trillion to the federal deficit over that time frame.

Combined with the CBO projection for the first decade, we're now sure to hear a lot about the next 10 years as well.




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