The Congressional Budget Office delivers good, but unsurprising news to the Senate Finance Committee. They say the panel’s health care reform legislation will require $829 billion in new spending–but that every penny will be covered, and, moreover, that it will reduce the deficit by $81 billion over 10 years, and then continue to reap even greater savings.
Director Doug Elmendorf writes, “According to CBO and JCT’s assessment, enacting the Chairman’s mark, as amended, would result in a net reduction in federal budget deficits of $81 billion over the 2010-2019 period.
All told, the proposal would reduce the federal deficit by $12 billion in 2019, CBO and JCT estimate. After that, the added revenues and cost savings are projected to grow more rapidly than the cost of the coverage expansion.
That’s a budget-wonk’s way of saying the bill “bends the cost curve,” as President Obama is fond of saying. However, though this meets all of the President’s demands as far as spending, and mitigating health care inflation, it’s not all roses. The bill would still leave a significant number of Americans uninsured. According to Elmendorf, “By 2019, CBO and JCT estimate, the number of nonelderly people who are uninsured would be reduced by about 29 million, leaving about 25 million nonelderly residents uninsured (about one-third of whom would be unauthorized immigrants). Under the proposal, the share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage would rise from about 83 percent currently to about 94 percent.”
That’s a bit lower than some of the other bills would achieve. Nonetheless, this means that the health care reform push is likely to move forward. A negative report from CBO could have thrown the entire process into disarray.