So a year after enactment of the healthcare plan backed by Obama is it fair to ask how that promise has held up?
One place where all questions are fair is Capitol Hill and the person doing the asking last week was Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.).
What happened, Ensign asked HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, to the president's oft-repeated promise that under his reforms “premiums will go down by $2,500” when average premiums actually have risen in the year since the law's passage?
And apparently it is not gauche to bring up a politician's campaign promises three years after the fact because Sebelius said the promise is alive and well—just on hold until around 2014.
“The benefits will not be seen until the vast (majority of the) components of this law are implemented,” she said at the March 16 hearing.
But the sources of that $2,500 in savings indicate Sebelius may be overpromising on an already optimistic claim.
Specifically, more than one-third of that savings—actually expected to stem from the $19 billion health information technology incentive program included in the stimulus law—could take 14 years from the date of full implementation to realize, according to the 2005 RAND study that originated the estimate. And since the national HIT program is slated to finish incentivizing in 2021, the full annual savings from widespread use of electronic medical records should start sometime around 2035, if all goes well.
One administration official who won't be sticking around to see that the HIT program is on target is actually a former unpaid Obama campaign healthcare adviser who helped develop the $2,500 average saving estimate: Dr. David Blumenthal, national coordinator for health IT. Blumenthal is slated to leave his post this spring, so catch him while you can with your questions on healthcare campaign promises.
—Richard Daly, Washington reporter