Dancing With The CBO

As Democrats rolled out their health reform bill in the House, there was a lot of uncertainty about a pretty important topic - how much will the legislation cost?

Seems pretty simple, eh?  But it wasn't.

Democrats claimed the bill weighed in at $894 billion over 10 years.

But if you read the Congressional Budget Office's preliminary review, the figure they used was $1.055 trillion.  The $894 billion was for health coverage initiatives in the bill.

The CBO review left a lot of unanswered questions for leaders of the more moderate Blue Dog Democrats, who quickly zipped off a letter to CBO Chief Doug Elmendorf.

"Your letter leaves unclear, however, whether the Affordable Health Care for America Act takes the steps necessary to effectively "bend the cost curve"," the Blue Dog missive said.

"We believe it is necessary to have as full and clear a description of its long-term budgetary effects as CBO can provide."

In other words, the message to CBO is, "Get some spine" and call it like it is.

It will be interesting to see if the CBO responds anytime soon, because I can see the Blue Dogs making a stink about being forced to vote on a plan without a clear cost estimate, and without knowing whether it will really reduce health care spending in the future.

Interesting tidbits from the CBO review include that the feds would bring in $167 billion in tax penalties from individuals and businesses that refuse buy health insurance.

$558 billion would come in from a new 5.4% surtax levied on those making more than $500,000 a year for an individual and $1 million for a couple.

Want to read more?  You can see this 27 page evaluation at http://is.gd/4Huri

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