Wednesday, October 7, 2009

( A Positive Step...Now Time To PUSH For Strong Public Option )

CBO: Determines Senate Finance Committee

Health Care Plan Would SAVE $81 Billion

Congressional budget experts said Wednesday that the sweeping health care overhaul bill awaiting a vote in the Senate Finance Committee will cost $829 billion over the next 10 years.

The preliminary report, released Wednesday by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, said the committee's health care reform package will not add to the national deficit -- and will save $81 billion over the next 10 years.

"Our balanced approach to health reform has paid off yet again with the news today that the America's Healthy Future Act remains fully paid for, begins to reduce the federal deficit within ten years and makes significant reductions in federal debt over the next several decades," Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement Wednesday.

The CBO said that the bill would reduce rolls of uninsured by 29 million over the next 10 years -- ensuring that 94 percent of Americans will be covered.

The report paves the way for the Senate Finance Committee to vote as early as Friday on the legislation, which is largely in line with President Obama's call for the most sweeping overhaul of the nation's health care system in a half-century.

Congressional tax experts say the proposed legislation would require health care industries to pay $121 billion in taxes over 10 years -- about $29 billion more than originally thought.

Finance Committee Republicans have been arguing the measure contains too many new taxes.

The committee's proposal, which calls for co-ops instead of a so-called "public option," has to be blended with the version approved by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, which does include the public option. Only then can it be considered by the full Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will face a difficult task in merging the two bills into one -- and presumably one that includes the government-run insurance plan that he and other liberal Democrats have steadfastly backed.

The Finance committee voted last week to strike two amendments that would establish a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurance coverage. But the bill created in July by the Health Committee includes a public option and requires employers to offer insurance to their employees.

The question over whether Reid will push for a government-run insurance plan in the final legislation remains to be answered. Reid has said a public option is essential to reform, and other leading Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have stressed its importance in expanding coverage to the millions of uninsured.
FOX News' Trish Turner and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

NOW...Time To FIGHT for Public Option !