An Unaffordable Care Act

New GAO report suggests Obamacare could increase deficit by $6.2 trillion, Sessions says

Jeff Sessions / AP
• February 26, 2013 4:55 pm


The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report Tuesday showing that if cost-control measures are not maintained the Affordable Care Act could increase the deficit by $6.2 trillion, or .7 percent of GDP, over the next 75 years.

The report shows President Barack Obama’s comments that Obamacare would "not add a dime to the long term debt [are] false," Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) said at a Budget Committee hearing.

"The result of this brand new report confirmed everything that Republicans were saying about the bill," Sessions said.

The report is the first to look at the long-term effects of the Affordable Care Act beyond a ten-year period.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) previously had projected the cost of Obamacare over a ten-year period and found it would save more than $100 billion if certain policies remained the same—policies that CBO director Doug Elmendorf said would be hard to maintain.

"CBO’s cost estimate noted that the legislation maintains and puts into effect a number of policies that might be difficult to sustain over a long period of time," Elmendorf said at the time.

The new GAO study ran two projections: one in which those cost reduction policies were maintained and another projection in which Congress phased out the reduction policies put into Obamacare.

"The long-term fiscal outlook depends largely on whether elements in PPACA designed to control cost growth are sustained," the report said. Under either scenario "the federal budget remains on an unsustainable path."

Debt decreased 1.5 percent of GDP over 75 years under the scenario in which cost reduction policies remained in place. However, under projections in which CBO and OACT "concerns about cost containment mechanisms under the PPACA" were accounted for, debt increased by .7 percent of GDP.

The GAO report highlighted concerns about sustaining the cost reduction policies.

"Questions about the implementation and sustainability of these provisions have been raised by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Office of the Actuary and others due in part to challenges in sustaining increased health care productivity," the report said.

Sessions cited comments by both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Obama that praised reductions in the deficit caused by Obamacare.

Nancy Pelosi called Obamacare a money saver in 2011 and warned that repealing Obamacare would cause "very serious violence to the national debt and deficit."

The Senate Committee on Finance features a webpage saying Obamacare "reduces the deficit by more than a trillion dollars in the coming decades."

"I will not sign it if it adds one dime to the deficit, now or in the future, period," Obama said in 2009 when he signed the ACA.

"This is how a country goes broke," Sessions said during the Budget Committee hearing.