If Congress can keep the cost-containment provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) in place, PPACA might slow growth in government debt a bit.
If Congress keeps the coverage expansion provisions in place but phases out the major cost-containment provisions, the budget outlook might be a little worse than if Congress had left the U.S. health care system alone and continued with its historical approach to health program budgeting.
The big question whether Congress can keep either pre-PPACA or PPACA cost-containment rules in place, not so much the effects of the PPACA coverage expansion programs.
Susan Irving and James Cosgrove, directors at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), have published those conclusions in a review of the possible effects of PPACA on the long-term fiscal outlook of the U.S. government.
The GAO prepared the review for Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., a member of the Senate Budget Committee.
GAO analysts looked at four different sets of projections that show how public debt might grow as a percentage of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) between 2010 and 2060.
The country already health program cost-containment provisions, such as mandated “productivity related” cuts in Medicare physician reimbursement rates, in place before Congress enacted PPACA.
When Congress enacted PPACA, lawmakers kept the physician reimbursement cut provisions and added an Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) that’s supposed to make mandatory recommendations for holding down Medicare cost growth.
Another PPACA provision caps the health insurance purchase subsidies that are supposed to go to consumers who use the new PPACA health insurance exchange system.