A health-care overhaul proposed by Senate Democrats will cost $849 billion over 10 years, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, and slash the deficit by $127 billion over the next decade.
The price tag is just under President Barack Obama's target of $900 billion over 10 years.
The estimates, from the Congressional Budget Office, also showed that the bill would reduce the number of uninsured Americans by 31 million people, said the Journal, citing a senior Senate leadership aide.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has been anxiously awaiting the CBO's price tag for the bill before moving to debate on the Senate floor. The first procedural vote could come later this week on the bill. Obama wants to sign a health-care reform bill before the end of the year.
Like a bill that passed the House on Nov. 7, the Senate's bill aims to cover most Americans, bar insurers from denying coverage to sick people, set up insurance "exchanges" where people can shop for coverage and fine those who don't get insurance. It also sets up a government-run insurance plan, expected to enroll about 6 million people.
But Reid faces a number of hurdles in getting a bill through the Senate, including concerns about the measure's cost. Sens. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., are among two of Reid's fellow Democrats who have openly worried about the cost of health-care reform.
Per what I've been told from Senate leadership offices, the Senate health care bill will:
- cut the budget deficit by $127 billion over 10 years
- cut the budget deficit by $650 billion in the second decade
- extend guaranteed coverage to more than 9% of Americans -- including a 31 million person reduction in the uninsured
Reid will probably file cloture on the motion to proceed tomorrow. The CBO's report should go up on the Senate Democrats site shortly.