CBO Report Out

Ken AshfordHealth CareLeave a Comment

As I mentioned yesterday, we're at the moment-of-truth for health care reform passage in the House, and it's a nailbiter.  In order to pass, a lot of Democrats neeed convincing (many are on the fence, and it is assumed that all House Republicans will vote "no").  A lot of wavering Democrats were concerned about whether HCR would explode the deficit.

The non-partisan CBO report came out this morning, and it's good news for the Democrats seeking health care reform:

House Democrats, gearing up for a possible vote on Sunday to pass health care legislation, pledged that the details they were about to publish would produce significant cost savings in the decades ahead.

The House Democratic leader, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, said that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office had determined that the package of legislation would produce “the largest deficit reduction of any bill we have adopted in Congress since 1993,” when it passed President Clinton’s budget proposal including substantial tax increases.

In the first ten years, the legislation would reduce deficits by $130 billion, Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the House majority whip, said after a meeting of the party’s caucus. The effect on deficits over the following decade would be much greater, a total of $1.2 trillion, he said. The savings would come largely from reductions in the growth of Medicare spending, with new fees and tax increases also contributing.


The bill that the House passed in November would have reduced deficits by slightly more — $138 billion compared with $130 billion — in the first ten years, while the version passed by the Senate in December would have reduced deficits by somewhat less — $118 billion — according to the budget office, whose estimates are considered authoritative.

The cost of the legislation has been a major concern for many centrist Democrats, a crucial bloc for leaders who are trying to muster the majority to pass the bill.

“We are absolutely giddy over the great news,” said Mr. Clyburn, who as the party whip is the keeper of its tallies, as the leadership seeks the 216 yes votes it will need for the decisive vote, expected this weekend.

Therefore, the House health care reform bill:

  1. CUTS THE DEFICIT Cuts the deficit by $130 billion in the first ten years (2010 – 2019). Cuts the deficit by $1.2 trillion in the second ten years.
  1. REINS IN WASTEFUL MEDICARE COSTS AND EXTENDS THE SOLVENCY OF MEDICARE; CLOSES THE PRESCRIPTION DRUG DONUT HOLE Reduces annual growth in Medicare expenditures by 1.4 percentage points per year—while improving benefits and lowering costs for seniors. Extends Medicare’s solvency by at least 9 years.
  1. EXPANDS AND IMPROVES HEALTH COVERAGE FOR MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES Expands health insurance coverage to 32 million Americans Helps guarantee that 95 percent of Americans will be covered.
  1. IS FULLY PAID FOR Is fully paid for – costs $940 billion over a decade. (Americans spend nearly $2.5 trillion each year on health care now and nearly two-thirds of the bill’s cost is paid for by reducing health care costs).

Expect some more movement to the "yes" column.

The House is expected to vote on Sunday.

UPDATE: And it begins. Adam Smith (D-WA), an “undecided” who was always going to vote for the bill, told MSNBC just now that he’s a likely yes.

UPDATE II: And another: Elliot Engel, again, was always going to be a yes.

UPDATE III:  The GOP pushback is lame.  Here is what's being written at Ace of Spades, a top righty blog?

So even if there magical assumptions all come true (and they won't), the net reduction in the deficit is essentially zero. We're going to rework the entire health care system and if everything goes right, we won't even eliminate one month of deficits?

You see what they did?  They lumped the health care bill in with everything else that is contributing to the deficit, and then said there is no "net reduction".  In other words, the health care reform bill will reduce the deficit, but since the deficit is still growing (for other reasons), the health care reform bill (according to these bozos) is a failure.

Spin fail — especially when it comes from those who were claiming for months that health care reform would "explode" the deficit.