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An Unexpected Answer on the Affordable Care Act & the Deficit

Summary: 
A critic of the President's health care reforms does not get the answer he may have been hoping for on the impact of repealing the Affordable Care Act on America's deficits.

Throughout the debate on the Affordable Care Act, the Administration was focused on ways to bring down costs and decrease long term deficits - and independent analysts repeatedly validated these efforts as successful. But many critics continued to insist that the bill would somehow bust the budget anyway, despite proof to the contrary.

Well, to his credit perhaps, one Senator who opposed reform recently put his money where his mouth was, as they say, and asked the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to examine the impact of repealing parts of the Affordable Care Act on the deficit over the next 10 years. As you have likely heard, some of those who opposed reform have adopted repeal as their new rallying cry, so the answer he got may have come as a bit of a surprise to him:

Finally, you asked what the net deficit impact would be if certain provisions of PPACA and the Reconciliation Act that were estimated to generate net savings were eliminated…If those provisions were repealed, CBO estimates that there would be an increase in deficits similar to its original estimate of $455 billion in net savings over that period.

In other words, repealing these provisions would add about $455 billion to the deficits over the next 10 years, hardly a contribution to our long term fiscal stability. As we say, we commend the Senator for his genuine concern for America’s budget deficits, a concern we have all clearly shared. We invite him and any others in Congress who opposed reform and who share that genuine concern to now embrace the Affordable Care Act as one of the most important deficit reduction laws in recent memory, which it clearly is.

The Affordable Care Act is already strengthening our health care system. Small businesses are eligible for tax cuts to help provide coverage to their employees, eligible seniors are receiving $250 checks to help with the cost of their prescription drugs and new consumer protections that put the American people in charge of their own care take effect in less than a month.  Further, the new law strengthens the long-term viability of Medicare that millions of seniors depend on, by cutting waste and fraud, and increasing efficiency.  It is also improving quality of care and giving consumers new benefits. But repealing the law means a larger budget deficit, and a health care system that gives insurance companies all the power.

As the CBO has once again made clear, we can’t afford to go back.

Stephanie Cutter is Assistant to the President for Special Projects