This evening on CNN Senator Judd Gregg again repeated his earlier debunked claim that the actual cost of Health Insurance Reform is $2.5 trillion, which he earlier made this morning:

 “I genuinely believe we need health care reform but it has to be done on a step-by-step basis and thought fully, not in a way that expands the size of the government by $2.5 trillion. That's how much it will cost when it's fully implemented... that's not debatable. it comes out of the cbo... that number is a 10-year number with the program starting in the fourth and fifth year. if you take ten years when the program is fully implemented throughout the whole ten years, it's $2.5 trillion so that number is sort of a bait and switch number.” [Gregg CNN Interview, 11/20/09]

Despite praising the CBO as “objective” and “non-partisan”, New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg, speaking against health care reform on the Senate floor today, cited skewed data crafted by Republican members of the Senate Budget Committee which drastically and inaccurately inflates the cost of the bill over data from the independent Congressional Budget Office he previously praised.  See below for more on Senator Gregg's distortions:

RHETORIC: Sen. Gregg Claimed Actual Cost Was $2.5 Trillion, From CBO: “That's a lot of money, $897 billion or or $800 billion-plus. But that's not a real number. That's a phony number. That's a bait-and-switch number… well, when that occurs, this bill costs by

RHETORIC: Sen. Gregg Used “CBO’s Objective, Non-Partisan Analysis” To Criticize President Obama’s 2010 Budget. In a press release, Sen. Gregg said, “[t]oday’s Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the President’s complete Fiscal Year 2010 budget as submitted to Congress on May 7th again paints a bleak picture for the U.S. economy in the years ahead, as spending and borrowing result in publicly-held debt tripling by 2019…’CBO’s objective, non-partisan analysis again raises red flags that we cannot continue to ignore. The President’s economic agenda is unrealistic, unsustainable, and will crush economic opportunities for our children and grandchildren unless we take action to get our fiscal house in order.’” [Press Release, 6/17/09]


Claim That Senate Bill Would Cost $2.5 Trillion Was Generated By Senate Budget Committee Republicans, Not CBO. Fox News reported that, “Republicans have countered the CBO estimate with a figure of their own: $2.5 trillion, an estimate that comes out of the Senate Budget Committee minority's analysis of Reid's plan.” [Fox News, 11/19/09]

CBO On Senate Bill: “Net Cost Itself Reflects A Gross Total Of $848 Billion”—Not $2.5 Trillion. [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

RHETORIC: Sen. Gregg Claimed States Would Lose Out Under Reform Because Of Medicaid Expansion: “The states, the states are just going to be taken to the cleaners by this bill. The allegation that you're going to expand Medicaid by 20 million to 30 million people and the states aren't going to end up paying a huge bill as a result of that?” [Gregg Floor Speech, 11/20/09]


CBO On Senate Bill: Federal Government Would Cover On Average 90% Of Additional Medicaid Costs, Up From 57% Currently; Federal Money Would Cover Higher Proportion Of CHIP Costs, Increasing From An Average Of 70 Percent To 93 Percent. The CBO concluded that the Senate reform legislation affected Medicaid in the following way: “Starting in 2014, most nonelderly people with income below 133 percent of the FPL would be made eligible for Medicaid. The federal government would pay all of the costs of covering newly eligible enrollees through 2016; in subsequent years, the share of federal spending would vary somewhat from year to year but ultimately would average about 90 percent. (Under current rules, the federal government usually pays about 57 percent, on average, of the costs of Medicaid benefits.)…Beginning in 2014, states would receive higher federal reimbursement for CHIP beneficiaries, increasing from an average of 70 percent to 93 percent. CBO estimates that state spending on Medicaid would increase by about $25 billion.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

 “Senate Staff Members Say The Governors Are Being Heard, And That Measures To Cut Other Health Care Costs In The Legislation Will Eventually Alleviate Their Concerns” On Added Medicaid Burden. The New York Times reported on nervousness from state governors based on concerns that some of the costs of Medicaid expansion would be shouldered by beleaguered states: “Senate staff members say the governors are being heard, and that measures to cut other health care costs in the legislation will eventually alleviate their concerns.” [New York Times, 8/7/09]


Study: If Reform Fails, “All States Would See Their Medicaid/CHIP Costs Rise By More Than 75 Percent From 2009 To 2019. Half The States Would Face Cost Increases Of More Than 100 Percent.” The Robert-Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute completed a study on the potential costs to states if health reform failed. The main findings for health care spending were: “In the worst case, all states would see their Medicaid/CHIP costs rise by more than 75 percent from 2009 to 2019. Half the states would face cost increases of more than 100 percent. Even in the best case, 13 states would experience Medicaid/CHIP cost growth of more than 65 percent. In the worst case, uncompensated care costs would more than double from 2009 to 2019 in 45 states. Even in the best case, uncompensated care would increase by more than 50 percent in 48 states.” [RWJF: The Cost Of Failure, 9/28/09]

RHETORIC: Sen. Gregg Claimed That Senate Bill Would Force Everyone Into Public Plan Eventually: “Well, it does what this bill is basically intended to do. It will force employers to drop private insurance and push people over onto the public plan, and that when you get down to it is what this is all about. This is an exercise at having the federal government basically get control over all health care, and it's being done in a -- in an incremental way.” [Gregg Floor Speech, 11/20/09]


CBO On Senate Bill: Public Plan Would Enroll Between 3 And 4 Million. In its estimate of the Senate reform bill, CBO wrote: “Roughly one out of eight people purchasing coverage through the exchanges would enroll in the public plan, CBO estimates, meaning that total enrollment in that plan would be 3 million to 4 million.” [Congressional Budget Office, 11/18/09]

Wall Street Analyst To Health Insurance Industry: Public Option “Looks Like A [Blue Cross Blue Shield] Plan,” Which Are “Strong Competitors For Private Insurers, But Not Deadly Ones.” The New York Times Prescriptions Blog wrote, “[i]n a report sent to investors earlier this week, a Wall Street analyst, Richard Evans, concludes that the health insurance industry should probably not worry much about the prospect of a government-run health plan — at least not as it now is taking shape in Congress. As things stands now, Mr. Evans notes, the proposed legislation does not call for the new government-run plan, or public option, to be able to demand the same low prices that Medicare gets from doctors and hospitals. Private insurers have argued that Medicare-pegged rates would give the public option an unfair advantage over their plans… ‘It appears the public option would be required to negotiate price with providers, pay back its start-up capital, cover its operating costs, and earn sufficient reserves,’ wrote Mr. Evans, a managing partner for Sector & Sovereign. ‘In other words, it looks like a Blues plan.’ Mr. Evans writes that the not-for-profit Blue Cross plans may be strong competitors for private insurers, but not deadly ones. Where they operate, he notes, they tend to have the largest share of the market but seem to be able to co-exist with for-profit insurance companies. ‘This suggests that a not-for profit public option has some enrollment advantages over for-profit commercial insurers, but that the effect is modest,’ he wrote.” [New York Times Prescriptions Blog, 11/3/09]

RHETORIC: Sen. Gregg Claimed Reform Was All About A Washington Takeover Of Health Care: “And this bill is all about moving power here to Washington. That's what this legislation is about. It's about centralizing the decision process, the national decision process on health care.” [Gregg Floor Speech, 11/20/09]


Fox’s Shep Smith To Sen. John Barrasso: “It’s Not A Government Takeover, Senator! That’s Not Fair And We Both Know It.” Fox News’ Shep Smith confronted Sen. John Barrasso over his boilerplate GOP talking points calling health reform a “government takeover,” and said: “SMITH: It’s not a government takeover, Senator! That’s not fair and we both know it. It’s not a government takeover because what it would be is a government option if you have insurance now and you like it you can keep it…That’s not a government take over if we’re being fair is it, Senator?...As the costs have gone up, the insurance industry’s profits on average have gone up more than 350 percent and it’s the insurance companies which have paid and have contributed to Senators and congressman on both sides of the aisle to the point where now, we can’t get…what more than 60 percent of Americans say they support, is a public option. This has been an enormous win for the health care industry. That is an unquestioned fact.” [FOX News, 10/6/09]

Sen. Frist Now Makes “Three Former Republican Senate Majority Leaders Who Have Endorsed The Sorts Of Reforms President And His Allies Are Pushing…For All Of The Crazy Talk About A Radical Government Takeover, Health Care Reform 2009 Is An Amalgam Of Compromises.” Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic noted that, “[f]or those keeping a tally, that's three former Republican Senate Majority Leaders who have endorsed the sorts of reforms President Obama and his allies are pushing. Previously, Howard Baker and Bob Dole signed on to a plan they negotiated with Tom Daschle and George Mitchell, former Democratic counterparts, through the auspices of the Biparitsan Policy Center. And this is as it should be. For all of the crazy talk about a radical government takeover, health care reform 2009 is an amalgam of compromises, many based on ideas taken straight from former Republican proposals--the kind of proposal, in other words, at least a few Republicans should be able to embrace in good faith. Now if only some currently serving members of the party could take a cue from the retired elder statesmen.” [The New Republic, 10/2/09]

Sen. Dole: “I Want This To Pass…I Don’t Agree With Everything Obama Is Presenting, But We’ve Got To Do Something…I Don’t Want The Republicans Putting Up A ‘No’ Sign And Saying, ‘We’re Not Open For Business.’” Former Senate Majority Leader Bob “Dole, to his credit, is having none of it. ‘I want this to pass,’ he said. ‘I don't agree with everything Obama is presenting, but we've got to do something.’ He added: ‘I don't want the Republicans putting up a “no” sign and saying, “we're not open for business.”’” [Kansas City Star, 10/7/09]

FactCheck.org: Under Obama’s Health Care Plan, “Nobody Would Be Forced To Drop His Or Her Current Insurance.” “Obama has long said he would allow individuals or small businesses to buy insurance through a public plan – like the one now available to members of Congress. But nobody would be forced to drop his or her current insurance, and private plans would exist as they do now. This was the health care plan he promoted as a presidential candidate.” [FactCheck.org, 5/1/09]

AMA President-Elect Reassured: Physicians And Patients Don’t Need To Fear The Rise Of A Monolithic Health System With No Choice From President Obama. The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported that “American Medical Association president-elect Dr. James Rohack told Mississippi doctors Friday…Physicians and patients don't need to fear the rise of a monolithic health system with no choice, because it's not something the American people would accept, Rohack said. The president didn't advocate a single-payer system for the United States at the meeting, Rohack said. Obama said he believes in access to health care for all with a system that is a mix of public and private sources with patients still able to see the physicians of their choice.” [Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, 5/30/09]