WASHINGTON (AP) — Next year is the year the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) goes into high gear, covering millions of uninsured Americans by a mix of private plans and government programs infused with tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer money.
You’d think there’d be a chapter in the new 2014 budget that lays it all out. Wrong.
Well, maybe a table? Wrong again.
A box? Nope.
It turns out that the costs of PPACA are sprinkled here and there through hundreds of pages of budget books. It’s partly due to the arcane ways of government budgeting. It may also be an effort to avoid giving foes more of a target.
“I’m sure somebody has a spreadsheet somewhere, but clearly they are not publishing it in this budget,” said Bill Hoagland, senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “There is a political aspect to this and there is literally a green-eyeshade part. Once you have adopted a policy it’s difficult to just pull it out.”
Even some of the major spending in the new law isn’t easy to find. Starting Jan. 1, people who don’t have health insurance through their jobs will be able to get coverage in two main ways. Low-income people will be eligible for an expanded Medicaid program, provided their state government accepts. Uninsured middle-class people in every state will eligible for subsidized private plans through new state health insurance marketplaces that go live online this fall.
So how much will the new coverage cost the government? Hard to tell.