CBO to release report on single-payer health care next week


The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Thursday that it will release a report on single-payer health care next week.

The report from Congress’s nonpartisan scorekeeper, slated for release on May 1, is sure to draw close scrutiny from both sides as “Medicare for All” single-payer proposals are hotly debated among Democrats on Capitol Hill and on the presidential campaign trail.

{mosads}The report will not be a formal score, meaning it may not include a specific cost estimate of Medicare for All, a key figure. Instead, the report is a response to House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth’s (D-Ky.) request to the CBO to produce a report on “design considerations” around single-payer health care.

A spokeswoman for Yarmuth also said Thursday that the Budget Committee plans to hold a hearing on the report in May, without providing a specific date. That hearing is also sure to feature an intense debate as Republicans eagerly attack Democrats on the idea.

Yarmuth asked the CBO in January for a “qualitative” analysis of single-payer.

“The report would not necessarily provide CBO’s estimate of the effects of any particular proposal for a single-payer system on federal spending or national health care spending but would, to the extent feasible, provide a qualitative assessment of how the choices with respect to major design issues would affect such spending,” Yarmuth wrote at the time.

Republicans have in the past asked the CBO for a full score of single-payer proposals, including a price tag, but so far there is no indication that the CBO is going to conduct that full analysis.  

Opponents, in the mean time, point to analyses like one from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, which put the cost to the government at $32 trillion over 10 years, though backers note the same study also found the country overall (not just the government) would actually spend $2 trillion less in total national health care spending under the proposal.

“House Budget Republicans look forward to this discussion and to hearing from Democrats how they plan to pay for a radical, multi-trillion-dollar proposal that would upend our nation’s health care system and leave Americans with bad health care, a weaker economy, and loads of debt,” said Lauren Blair Aronson, a spokesperson for House Budget Committee Republicans.

A separate committee, the House Rules Committee, will also hold a hearing on Medicare for All on Tuesday, a day before the CBO report is scheduled to be released.

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