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Health Reform Could Raise Costs

A report by economic experts from the Health and Human Services Department offers a second opinion on the new health-care law signed by President Obama last month. The group is more optimistic that coverage will be expanded by the law, which they see adding 34 million people to the ranks of the insured, but suggests that efforts to control medical costs—a major goal of the legislation—may not work as planned. According to the report, health-care costs are expected to rise by 1 percent over 10 years and could go up further if Medicare cuts included in the law are revisited by lawmakers. The report suggests that there could be stronger health-care savings after 2019, when the law has had a few years to take effect, but the danger that Medicare cuts could prove unsustainable may jeopardize those gains as well. The White House has said it disagrees with the experts' take, which they say is too pessimistic on whether a number of provisions in the bill can achieve substantial savings.