The House health care bill is getting cheaper, but Democrats aren't boasting just yet. Because when they ultimately break silence the hope is to present conservative Democrats in both chambers with a bill that will walk the walk of fiscal responsibility--including a public option, which is projected to save the government billions.
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As always, the legislative process is unpredictable, and the Senate is operating in isolation from the House. But with the public option potentially in the balance, Speaker Pelosi's goal is this: present conservative Democrats in both chambers with a Hobson's choice between a public option bill and a potentially more expensive Senate bill that may have no public option at all.
On Friday, the Washington Post ran with leaked CBO numbers, showing that House health care leaders have reduced the price tag of their bill by at least $100 billion. The numbers were preliminary--not reflective of the current state of the legislation, which is changing constantly--but they showed a definite downward trajectory in the overall cost of its reform plan.
Still, leadership was not pleased.