The Cost of Doing Nothing

NULL

NULL

Dave Mann

We’re hearing a lot of talk these days from conservatives about the high price of health care reform.

We can’t afford that, they say. It’ll mean a huge tax increase. Sen. John Cornyn said last week that the Baucus plan would cost Texas taxpayers too much — $20 billion over 10 years to be exact.

Not to be outdone, Gov. Rick Perry — using an estimate from the health and human services department — pegged the 10-year cost at $60 billion.

I pointed out last week the flaw in this argument. Yes, expanding health coverage for millions of Texans will cost the state a lot of money — but it will also save a lot of money for county governments, which are paying much of the $7 billion a year in uncompensated care for Texas’ uninsured. (A lot of the cost for uncompensated care arises from people who lack health insurance showing up at emergency rooms in public hospitals — the single most expensive place to receive treatment.)

So health reform isn’t really new spending. It’s a cost shift: state government spends more, counties spend less.  

Today the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a study that shows just how much maintaining our current health system will cost Texas in the next decade. (Here’s a summary of the findings. You can find the whole report here.) 

It ain’t pretty. Details after the jump.

Do you think free access to journalism like this is important? The Texas Observer is known for its fiercely independent, uncompromising work—which we are pleased to provide to the public at no charge in this space. That means we rely on the generosity of our readers who believe that this work is important. You can chip in for as little as 99 cents a month. If you believe in this mission, we need your help.


Dave Mann is a former editor of the Observer.


Top