The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued a cost estimate of the healthcare reform bill under consideration by the Senate Finance Committee, concluding it would increase federal spending by $829 billion over 10 years but be offset by enough spending cuts and tax increases to reduce the budget deficit by $81 billion.
The net number of legal U.S. residents without health insurance would reduce by 29 million over 10 years, the CBO further concluded.
Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus hailed the CBO score as "very good news" that confirms Democratic claims that the bill can expand coverage to 94 percent of Americans and lower the deficit at the same time. He said a final committee vote would be scheduled once he consults with committee members. Baucus also said he trusted the accuracy of the score since the CBO has had the legislation for several days and that the next step after a committee vote is to merge the bill with the version passed this summer by the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.
Baucus said he has not spoken to the White House about Wednesday's CBO score, and rejected GOP complaints that the bill will force states to significantly increase their Medicaid spending.
"Today the Congressional Budget Office confirmed that the legislation in the Finance Committee to reform our healthcare system will be fully paid-for and reduces the federal deficit," Baucus said. "That's very good news... I'm very pleased that this will help advance the bill very quickly."