So have the Democrats learned anything from the Clinton health care debacle in 1993? Well, at least one thing, according to the Cato Institute: how to hide costs. As this Cato blog post explains, in 1993, the Clinton health care plan, like the ones now under consideration, mandated that individuals and employers to buy private health insurance. When the Congressional Budget Office estimated the cost, it included that mandate, counting it as both the revenue and expenditure sides of the budget. The resulting high estimated for the Clinton plan sunk the bill.
So now the Democrats have figured out a way to keep those costs out of the CBO scoring process, leading to an estimate that accounts for only 40 percent of the cost, according to Cato. Were the private mandates included the proposed Senate bill would cost $2.1 trillion, not $848 billion. For those who like the nitty gritty stuff of public policy, this blogger explains how the Democrats have kept those private-sector costs out of the picture. For even further reading, click here and here for CBO releases on this issue.