The Congressional Budget Office has released an updated version of its analysis of the Senate health care bill, finding that the cost of expanding coverage would now be $875 billion over the next decade, as compared to the prior estimate of $871 billion, and that it would reduce deficits by $118 billion, instead of the previously forecast $132 billion.
The differences have to do with some technical corrections, as well as assuming the legislation would be enacted later than previously expected. Since the bill hasn’t changed, the same accounting gimmicks are there, such as delaying enactment of the major spending provisions to make the bill appear cheaper over the CBO’s 10-year time window (the bill costs $65 billion in the first five years, and $810 billion in the second five years).
The more important CBO score, however, will be its evaluation of the reconciliation bill that’s supposed to be the vehicle to effectively merge the House and Senate bills. Assuming the contents are along the lines of what was proposed by the White House (more subsidies, expanding federal Medicaid payments to all states, etc.) the cost will be higher. According to the White House, Obama’s changes would cost $75 billion. If so, it would challenge Obama’s pledge that the health care bill would cost “around $900 billion.”