Dems, GOP Tussle Over Healthcare Law Using Experts’ Estimates.

The National Journal (3/31, McCarthy, subscription required) reports, “House Republicans put two of the government’s top numbers-crunchers in the hot seat on Wednesday to testify on the cost of the healthcare reform law.” During the hearing, “the officials stuck to their well-worn lines of analysis, resisting both GOP efforts to poke holes in the law’s cost estimates and Democratic attempts to tout its savings.” CMS actuary Richard Foster and Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf “both defended their different analyses of the health law’s costs but said that precisely determining how much a piece of legislation will cost in the future is impossible.”

        CQ HealthBeat (3/31, Adams, subscription required) reports that according to Foster, the “cuts in the law are so deep that medical providers ‘eventually would become unable or unwilling to provide services to Medicare beneficiaries.'” He predicted that ultimately, “lawmakers would probably step in and increase Medicare payment rates.” Meanwhile, “Elmendorf defended his agency’s” findings that repealing the healthcare law would increase the deficit by $210 billion.

        The Hill (3/31, Millman) says in its “Healthwatch” blog that Elmendorf “rejected GOP claims that more than $100 billion in healthcare reform’s long-term mandatory spending was ‘hidden’ from the public until recently.” Notably, “House Republicans have targeted the law’s long-term appropriations, which they say weren’t uncovered until just last month. Republican lawmakers have labeled the mandatory spending a ‘slush fund’ for the Health and Human Services secretary, and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) recently said the lower chamber’s majority will target the mandatory spending as part of its plan to defund and repeal the overhaul.” But, Elmendorf insisted that CBO had known about the $105 billion slated for health reform implementation. Modern Healthcare (3/31, Zigmond, subscription required) also covers the story.

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