The AP is reporting that a new estimate of the health care bill coming out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has a price tag of $600 billion, while covering 97 percent of Americans — a stark contrast from the $1 trillion estimate that covered a smaller number of Americans. However, the story is based on a letter from Ted Kennedy and Chris Dodd reporting the CBO findings, but not any CBO report itself.
As liberal health care reporter Jonathan Cohn acknowledges, the $600 billion number does not actually include the expansion of Medicaid, which is expected to add about 20 million people to the program’s rolls. Add that, Cohn writes, and you’re likely looking at a bill that costs $1 trillion to $1.3 trillion over 10 years. He suggests that it will be deficit neutral once you factor in proposed cuts to Medicare, other savings, and tax increases.
The problem is, there’s a big debate over how to raise revenue. Obama’s proposal to cap the charitable deduction on wealthy Americans is not popular on the Hill, while the idea of taxing employer benefits has drawn fire of unions. That said, I’m going to reserve further comment until I can look at the actual CBO findings.
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