Gregg: GOP unsure of exact cost of Senate health alternatives

Senate Republicans cannot say what exactly the budgetary impact of their health alternatives would be, Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said this weekend.

Gregg, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, emphasized that Republicans believe their healthcare alternatives would bring down costs, though the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) would be unable to score them.

The New Hampshire Republican said that GOP alternatives, which they'll offer as amendments to Democrats' health legislation, "don't cost money."

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"They would actually save money," Gregg said during an interview on C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" program. "Some of them don't score because we don't know how to score them under CBO rules, but we actually know from experience that they would produce more effectively delivered cost service."

Gregg said that Republican ideas -- such as tort reform, focusing on the most widespread health problems, providing health incentives, and establishing better delivery -- would almost certainly bring down costs.

Senate Republicans plan to offer amendments to the health bill to be unveiled in the coming week by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) instead of the comprehensive bill Republicans had floated in the House.

The CBO score of the House bill suggested that the Republican bill, which in many ways mirrors the Senate GOP's amendments, would bring down the deficit and lower health costs, but still leave potentially tens of millions of Americans without health insurance.

"We're going to offer a series of amendments -- if we're allowed -- that would basically address the bill, address health reform in a constructive way, and would be a positive effort at reforming our health system without being a massive increase in government," Gregg said.