Separately, the report cast doubt on the claims of House Democrats that the bill is fully paid for. It said because of reductions in planned Medicare payments, acute care hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and home healthcare agencies "could find it difficult to remain profitable and might end their participation in the program (possibly jeopardizing access to care for some beneficiaries)."
Any attempt to remedy that problem "would likely result in significantly smaller actual savings" than estimated, the report said.
The analysis was issued by Richard Foster, the chief actuary at the CMS, which is part of HHS. The study was conducted at the request of House Republicans, who quickly tried to turn it against Democrat President Barack Obama's administration.
Foster's report says legislation would expand insurance coverage to an estimated 32 million people who now lack it, according to the report, creating a demand for services that "could be difficult to meet initially ... and could lead to price-increases, cost-shifting and/or changes in providers' willingness to treat patients with low-reimbursement health coverage."
Billions of dollars in projected savings contained in the measure will be difficult to maintain, the report said.
Rep. John Boehner, the House Republican leader, issued a statement saying the study "confirms that this bill violates President Obama's promise to 'bend the cost curve.' It's now beyond dispute that their bill will raise costs."
But Brendan Daly, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, said the report "shows that our health reform bill will extend the life of the Medicare trust fund by five years, significantly longer than any proposal in recent years."
The same report "estimates that our bill will cover 10% more of the population with less than a 1.3% increase in national health expenditures that illustrates a bending of the cost curve," he added.
Obama and congressional Democrats have said one of their goals with the legislation is to slow the growth of healthcare costs nationally.
In the party's weekly radio and Internet address, Rep. Mark Kirk accused House Democrats of missing opportunities to improve the legislation when they rejected Republican proposals to limit lawsuits and give states more flexibility to enact innovative changes.
Congressional budget experts say the House-passed bill would cost $1.2 trillion over 10 years and expand coverage to an additional 36 million people.
The Republican plan Kirk touted is estimated to push down premiums for privately insured people but would reduce the number of uninsured by just 3 million, according to an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office.
What do you think? Post a comment on this article and share your opinion with other readers. Submit your comments to Modern Healthcare Online at [email protected]. Please be sure to include your hometown and state, along with your organization and title.