Sen. Johnson urges CBO to update employer and cost impacts of health law

U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, and 36 other Senators have requested that the Congressional Budget Office update its official estimate of the number of workers who will lose employer-provided health care and be ‘dumped’ into health insurance exchanges due to the 2010 health care law.

The request was made in a joint letter to CBO Director Dr. Douglas Elmendorf.

Johnson said that to be able to claim that his health care plan would not increase the debt, President Obama and his Congressional allies engineered an unrealistic low-ball estimate of the cost of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  

"A key part of that fiction is an unrealistically low estimate of how many Americans will be dumped into the health insurance exchanges,” Johnson charged. “The fact is that many millions more Americans will be put into this exchange costing hundreds of billions – possibly trillions of dollars more – if ObamaCare is not repealed.”

The full letter to Elmendorf reads as follows:

“You acknowledged CBO’s willingness to reassess and revise its estimates when there is compelling evidence to do so. During a meeting in my office on December 8, 2011, you repeated this commitment and acknowledged that a number of national surveys of employers regarding this topic might provide that evidence.

“CBO’s staff has confirmed that you are actively reviewing this estimate and will provide your conclusion to Congress shortly after the President presents his FY2013 Budget.

“The purpose of this letter is to encourage CBO to go beyond a purely economic analysis of this decision matrix facing employers. That analysis has already been performed by former CBO Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin. His analysis showed 35 million Americans for whom both employer and employee would find it financially beneficial to drop employer-sponsored health care and obtain coverage through PPACA’s health exchanges. He estimated the additional cost of this would be nearly $1 trillion between 2014 and 2019.

“For many, if not most employers, the decision to drop or retain coverage will not be the result of a perfect economic analysis. It is more likely to rely on a very linear choice between two alternatives: (1) the employer incurring the $15,000 annual cost of family coverage, or (2) the employer paying the $2,000 fine and thereby making the employees eligible for many thousands of dollars in subsidies through the exchanges. That decision is likely to be a simple one for many businesses, especially in this troubled economy.”