By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — When a government report found that President Barack Obama's health overhaul would modestly raise the nation's total health care tab, the White House responded with a statistic suggesting costs would go down.
Health reform director Nancy-Ann DeParle wrote on the White House blog last week that the same government report indicates spending per insured person will be more than $1,000 lower in 2019 because of the law — some 9% below previous projections.
"The act will make health care more affordable for Americans," DeParle said.
It turns out that may be fuzzy math.
The head of the nonpartisan economic unit at Medicare that produced the original cost report says the White House number "does not provide a meaningful or accurate indication" of the effect of the health care law.
"The amounts quoted in the White House blog are not meaningful and cannot be used to calculate the change in health expenditures per insured person," Richard Foster, Medicare's chief actuary, told The Associated Press.
The Obama administration stands by its statistic.
It's a dispute about numbers and how they're bandied about by powerful people in Washington.
But you don't need an economics degree to follow this one. All you have to do is remember your fractions.
The health care law expands coverage, reducing the number of uninsured by more than 32 million, although about 24 million will remain without coverage.
Still, the share of the population with insurance will go up by nearly 10 percentage points, to about 93%. And that makes a difference in the numbers.