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Q & A with Jim Horney on Health Reform and the Deficit, Part 5


This Q & A is part five in a series on myths about health reform and its impact on the federal budget deficit with Jim Horney, our director of federal fiscal policy.

1. Jim, we’ve examined a number of claims that health reform is financed with gimmicks and found them false. A related claim is that the law doesn’t slow health costs because its coverage expansions will increase total national spending on health care. Do the critics have a point here?

No, they don’t. Of course, you can’t cover 32 million uninsured people without spending more initially. But the health reform law includes an extensive array of provisions to slow the growth of health care costs over time. As a result, by the decade after 2019, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that total federal spending and tax expenditures for health care will be lower with health reform than it would have been without it.

2. And what about even further into the future?

The health reform law includes almost every idea that health care experts think holds promise for reducing the growth of health care spending. Experts agree that slowing the growth of health care costs will require an ongoing process of testing, experimentation, and rapid implementation of what is found to work. The health reform law begins that process.

We’ll need to do more to address our long-term budget problems. But the health reform law is a critical step forward.

Listen to the podcast of this conversation, the third in a series on health reform myths and realities (or find it on iTunes).  To learn more about the new health reform law, check out our special series “Moving Forward with Health Reform.”