N.Y. Times News Service
WASHINGTON _ A comprehensive analysis of President Clinton's
health plan finds that it would reduce the federal budget
deficit, as Clinton said, but that the costs to government and
business would be higher than advertised by the White House.
In the most complete independent analysis yet of Clinton's
plan, Lewin-VHI, a respected nonpartisan consulting concern, said
Wednesday that insurance premiums for the wide range of health
benefits promised by Clinton would be higher than estimated by
the White House. Under the Clinton plan, employers would pay at
least 80 percent of such premiums, and consumers wound generally
pay the remainder.
The study accepted Clinton's assumption that the federal
government can slow the rate of increase in health care spending
by regulating insurance premiums and by increasing competition
among doctors and hospitals.
Using this assumption, Lawrence S. Lewin, chairman of
Lewin-VHI, said: "The administration's cost estimates are overly
optimistic, but the Clinton plan still reduces the federal budget
deficit, and it holds together logically. It meets the
president's requirement of providing universal coverage, and it
does so without relying on an increase in broad-based income
The study is probably as authoritative as any by a private
company and could set the tone for public debate until the
Congressional Budget Office issues its analysis early next year.
John F. Sheils, chief author of the Lewin study, said that
from 1995 to the year 2000 the Clinton proposal would cost the
government $78 billion more than the administration's estimate of
$286 billion. It would reduce the federal budget deficit by a
cumulative total of $25 billion in that period, rather than the
$103 billion predicted by the administration, he said.
Alice M. Rivlin, deputy director of the Office of Management
and Budget, welcomed Lewin's report as a form of vindication. It
"essentially verifies our estimates and the soundness of the
financing of our proposal," she said. She asserted that Lewin's
cost estimates were "roughly the same" as President Clinton's.
A major premise of Clinton's plan is that the government can
save money by slowing medical inflation and by forcing employers
to pay some costs now paid by Medicare and Medicaid, the programs
for the elderly and the poor.
"Most people out there don't believe there will be any deficit
reduction," said Kenneth E. Thorpe, a deputy assistant secretary
of the Department of Health and Human Services. "The Lewin report
shows the president's plan will indeed reduce the deficit by
billions of dollars. Our numbers are conservative, and the Lewin
study confirms that. …