Sunday, March 21, 2010

Chief Actuary at HHS Cannot Provide Cost Analysis of Latest Health Spending Bill Before the Vote

Just in case you thought anyone, other than the insiders, knows what is in this bill:

‘I regret that my staff and I will not be able to prepare our analysis within this very tight time frame, due to the complexity of the legislation.’ -  writes The Obama Adminiastration's chief actuary, Richard S. Foster.

Here is the full text of the letter sent to Republican leaders, who requested the acturial data:
The Honorable Mitch McConnell

Republican Leader

United States Senate

Dear Senator McConnell:

This letter is in preliminary response to your inquiry of March 19 requesting an updated analysis by the Office of the Actuary of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (as passed by the Senate) as it would be modified by the “Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute to H.R. 4872, the Reconciliation Act of 2010” (as released by the House Committee on Rules on March 18). The request was made jointly by yourself and 10 other members of the House and Senate Republican Leadership.

In your letter, you requested that we provide the updated actuarial estimates in time for your review prior to the expected House debate and vote on this legislation on March 21,2010. I regret that my staff and I will not be able to prepare our analysis within this very tight time frame, due to the complexity of the legislation. We will, however, continue working to estimate the financial, coverage, and other impacts of the health reform package and will provide these results to you as quickly as possible.

As you know, the Office of the Actuary has assisted Congressional Administration policy makers on health legislative and policy initiatives for many years, including the original Medicare legislation in 1965, all subsequent amendments to this program, Medicaid amendments since 1976, and the Clinton Administration’s proposed Health Security Act in 1993-94. Our goal has always been to provide independent, objective technical information for use by policy makers as they deliberate Medicare, Medicaid, and national health reform proposals.

We issued an analysis of the Senate Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in a memorandum dated January 8, 2010. While it is reasonable to expect that our updated analysis of this legislation, as modified by the reconciliation amendments, would be generally similar to the results in the January 8 memorandum, I cannot confirm this expectation without a full evaluation of the amendments and re-estimation of the provisions.

I am sending a similar letter to House Republican Leader Boehner, and, for expediency, will email copies to the other cosigners of your request. I am sorry that we cannot respond more quickly. Please let us know if you have any other questions we can assist with.


Richard. S. Foster

Chief Actuary



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