CBO: Health Care Bill Now $871 Billion, Public Option Compromise Does Not Lower Premiums

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December 19, 2009 7:25 a.m.

The soon-to-be amended Senate health care bill will cost $871 billion over 10 years according to a new, long-awaited report by the Congressional Budget Office.

That’s about $22 billion more than the bill was originally expected to cost, before the new changes–including nixing the public option–were offered to the bill. Democrats replaced the public option with a new plan to allow national or multi-state, non-profit insurance plans, regulated by the federal government, to sell insurance on state exchanges.

The CBO has concluded that, on average, premiums will be the same as they would have been if the Senate had the public option, but that the public option saved the federal government more money by putting downward pressure on the premiums of low-cost private plans, which will be heavily subsidized.

The bill remains a big deficit slayer–$132 billion in the first 10 years. Over the next 10 years, CBO warns all estimates are very uncertain. But here’s a key conclusion: “CBO expects that the legislation, if enacted, would reduce federal budget deficits over the ensuing decade relative to those projected under current law–with a total effect during that decade that is in a broad range around one-half percent of GDP.”

Senior Democratic aides are suggesting that the bill could reduce the deficit, compared to deficits projected under current law, by as much as $1.3 trillion.

You can read the report here (PDF), and a summary on the CBO’s blog here.

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