Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) let it be known in numerous ways that early versions of the House health care bill would not meet his budgetary muster. Now, with CBO saying the House bill is a long term deficit reducer, Conrad has some very kind words for it.
"Much improved," Conrad told me. "It's now paid for, has deficit reduction over the first 10, and savings over the second 10...that's a big improvement. I commend the House. They've made significant strides and they deserve credit for it."
"They did make this sound from a budgetary standpoint, far more sound, and in terms of the public option, they no longer have it tied to Medicare levels of reimbursement which is, as I see it, terribly unfair to the low reimbursement states," he added.
One consequence of not tying the public option to Medicare? The CBO predicts that average premiums will be higher in the public option than in private plans.