Health Reformers Get The CBO Score They Want

After an embarrassing miscue, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee can now say near-universal should be achievable at a relatively low cost. Last month, HELP Democrats asked the Congressional Budget Office to score an incomplete version of its health care reform bill–one that had been voided of its most controversial provisions. The results were embarrassing. They suggested that the bill–which lacked an employer mandate and a public option–would leave many uninsured, at a nonetheless tremendous cost.

Now, the committee has received a new CBO score–this one of the complete bill–and the results are much, much better. At a glance, they imply that the HELP bill will cover most Americans at a cost of just over $600 billion, but as TNR’s Jon Cohn explains, the results are actually a bit more complicated than that. His conclusion? As experts expected, a comprehensive reform package will likely cost about a trillion dollars over 10 years. That may sound like an unholy amount of money, but as a percentage of the next 10 years worth of overall health care spending, it’s a drop in the bucket.