Health reform is in this man’s hands

July 27, 2009

No, not Obama, not Baucus, not Grassley.  It’s Doug Elmendorf, CBO director.

Not once, or twice, but three times he has scored Congress proposals’ cost way higher than expected, which has resulted on damaging headlines. His rationale is that he is being conservative, and he will not credit any cost savings from changes and programs that aren’t proven.

Unfortunately there is little his predecessor Peter Orzag, now Obama’s OMB director, can do about it.

Krugman is crying foul, but a lot more pressure needs to be applied.

3 Responses to “Health reform is in this man’s hands”

  1. still thinking of one Says:

    Damn this congressional oversight and separation of powers! If only we pass that amendment appointing Obama the Supreme Ruler of all creatures big and small we would solve all the nation’s problems!

  2. maristi Says:

    I’m not saying he needs to roll over for Obama, although his undermining of Congress’ own proposals is very annoying.

    I am saying his approach is flat wrong, and unfortunately we all suffer for it.

    Basically where a proposal cuts a payment by 20% he scores a 20% savings. But where proposals estimate 20% savings from increased competition, a standards review board, increased efficiencies from electronic records, etc. he scores 0% savings because they are “not proven”.

    If companies were run that way there would be no partnerships, no new product lines added, no R&D, no hiring star employees. None of these strategic decisions have a guaranteed return. There is always some degree of risk.

  3. still thinking of one Says:

    I have not looked at these proposal in details, but from experience with others that have passed federal and state legislature the ‘savings’ numbers are almost always pulled out of bill writers asses; essentially made up to balance their proposed spending. Anybody remember the “Iraqi oil will pay for war”? How about the Medicare prescription drugs that are now costing 50% more than expected? And, yes, those were Republican bills, but my Democrats haven’t passed anything meaningful in the last 3 years and my immediate memory doesn’t go back to before ’94; I’d need to do research. Bottom line is he’s right to assume the legislators are liars. If he doesn’t have his own properly qualified, independent staff to do a separate analysis of the detailed proposals(if they exist, which I hear they don’t, just summaries), he should write in 0 for those items.

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