Obama's 'Fiscal Responsibility' Co-Chair: 'Common Sense' Says Obamacare ‘Can't Work’

November 2, 2011 - 3:26 PM

Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and Erskine Bowles

FILE: Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.) and Erskine Bowles, co-chairmen of the president's fiscal commission, at the National Press Clun in Washington, D.C. (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) – Former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), who co-chaired President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, said Tuesday that Obamacare is not a sustainable program, and “all you have to do is use common sense” to see “it can’t work.”

“We just knew that, whatever you call it, whatever--if you want to use the negatives, you can call it Obamacare, or any kind of care you want to--it won’t work,” Simpson said. “It can’t work because all you have to do is use common sense.”

Simpson and fellow co-chairman Erskine Bowles testified before the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, and were asked by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) whether the super committee should revisit the expansion of the Medicaid program in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – or Obamacare.

Upton pointed out that under the president’s health-care plan, based on projections from 2014 to 2023, there will be almost $2 trillion in additional spending over a ten-year period, and 25 million Americans will be added to the rolls of Medicaid after 2014, “which means more than one in four Americans will be in fact a Medicaid beneficiary,” Upton noted.

Upton asked: “So based on that and statements that you made about the budget crisis, do you believe that we should revisit the expansion of the Medicaid program [and] the president’s proposal?”

Simpson cited the problem of the sustainability of the program, when the growth of people with obesity, who use tobacco and alcohol, and young children with preexisting conditions are going to receive benefits.

"You have this imploding of people,” Simpson said. “You have diabetes. You have one person in America weighs more than the other two. You’ve got guys that choose to do tobacco, who choose to do booze, who chose to do designer drugs and all of them will be taken care of. You’ve got preexisting conditions in three-year olds. What happens through their 60 years or 50 years of life?”

The lack of means-testing to help lower costs was especially problematic for Simpson.

“All you have to do is forget the charts and know that if you torture statistics long enough they’ll eventually confess. And know that this country cannot exist on any kind of situation where a guy who can buy this building gets a $150,000 heart operation and doesn’t even get a bill. Now that’s nuts. And that’s where we are in America,” Simpson said.

The former conservative senator suggested that raising co-pays and introducing affluence testing would be a start to lowering the rate of growth.

“There’s no affluence testing. We’ve got to raise co-pays. We’ve got to knock down providers. We’ve got to deal with physicians. You have to have hospitals keep one set of books instead of two,” Simpson said.

However, Fiscal Commission co-chair Erskine Bowles, the former chief of staff for President Bill Clinton, meanwhile, said of Obamacare: “We did believe it would solve the problem of providing more people health care. But we didn’t believe it would solve the problem of how to control the cost of healthcare.”

Because they believed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act did not control the cost of health care, Bowles said the commission proposed and additional $500 billion of cuts to the Medicare and Medicaid programs to slow the rate of growth.

Bowles said that if that $500 billion in cuts didn’t work, then there would be an overall cap on all areas of federal health care spending – and sterner measures would be needed.

“If it didn’t slow the rate of growth, then there would be an overall cap on all these areas of spending -- federal healthcare spending -- you are going to have to look at some options like a premium support plan,” Bowles said. “Like the robust public option. Like a single payer plan.”

Nov. 23 is the deadline for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or “super committee,” as it's known, to come up with $1.2 trillion of reductions to the country’s long-term deficit.