Update: A prior version of this story said U.S. Rep. Tom Price's office did not respond to requests for comment by PolitiFact Georgia. His staffers did send us information about health care cost projections but did not provide an on-the-record comment.
A talking point blasting President Barack Obama’s signature health care legislation is bouncing across Georgia’s political messaging echo chamber as the U.S. Supreme Court tackles the law.
Opponents of the 2010 bill have repeatedly said the changes are too expensive and have recently highlighted a March 2012 report from the Congressional Budget Office as proof.
U.S. Rep. Tom Price of Roswell joined the chorus March 14 with a news release.
"The new CBO projection estimates that the law will cost $1.76 trillion over 10 years -- well above the $940 billion Democrats originally claimed," said Price, a Republican.
U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, a Republican from Ranger, said something similar, as did a Texas candidate for the U.S. Senate. Fox News published a story that said the law will cost twice as much as originally estimated.
Oral arguments in the Supreme Court case began Monday. It’s widely considered to be one of the most politically fraught cases in years.
We sought help from our sister site PolitiFact National, which tested a statement by Ted Cruz, the Texas candidate. He tweeted: "Did you know ObamaCare will cost nearly twice as much as initially expected -- $1.8 TRILLION?"
PolitiFact National found that Cruz’s statement was False.
The CBO’s estimates have increased, but far less than Cruz, Price and others have said.
The biggest problem is that their claims compare apples to oranges.
The CBO’s job is to review initiatives in Congress that may have an impact on the federal budget. It did so in 2010 for Obama’s health care overhaul.
That report projected that the program’s costs during a 10-year period starting in 2010 and ending in 2019 would total $938 billion.
This figure is the program’s "gross" cost and does not take into account plan features that will pay for some of the changes, such as new taxes on higher-income earners and penalties for those who opt out of insurance.
Costs will increase as the program phases in. Full implementation will take place in 2014.
Next, we looked at the newest report. The gross cost estimate is $1.762 trillion from 2012 through 2022.
We found the 2012 number is not comparable to the 2010 figure.
First of all, the new report calculates costs over an 11-year span, not a decade as the 2010 report did.
Furthermore, it includes costs for nine years in which the health care law would be in full effect. The 2010 report covered only six years of full implementation.
A better comparison would be to look at costs for 2012 through 2019, the years covered by both reports. So that’s what PolitiFact National did.
In the CBO’s first estimate, the gross figure is $931 billion.
In the new estimate, the figure is $1.01 trillion.
That’s an increase of less than 9 percent.
This jump is far less than what Price’s numbers suggest. If the CBO’s estimate had truly changed to $1.76 trillion as his news release said, the plan’s costs would have nearly doubled.
PolitiFact National also considered what the projected cost of the health care overhaul would be if it took into account aspects of the plan that would pay for some of the care. It felt this "net" cost number would be a more complete portrayal of the plan’s costs.
It found that these net cost projections actually declined. The CBO’s 2010 estimate totaled $784 billion. The 2012 report revised it downward to $768 billion.
Price’s claim that the health care overhaul "will cost $1.76 trillion over 10 years -- well above the $940 billion Democrats originally claimed" uses numbers that are not comparable to make an incorrect assertion.
When you do the math correctly, the gross cost projection increased by less than 9 percent. The net cost estimate has actually dropped.
Price’s claim is False.