CBO Score Gives Reform a Boost
By Ben Pershing
Wednesday brought a reminder that wonks bearing calculators can be hugely important to the direction of the country, as the Congressional Budget Office's determination that the Senate Finance Committee health bill would cost $829 billion served to give the entire reform effort a shot of adrenaline.
The CBO score means the Finance measure "has emerged as the only one of five bills by various panels that achieves every important goal [President] Obama has set for his top domestic initiative," the Washington Post writes. USA Today leads with a different number: The bill would cover 94 percent of Americans. "After appearing in peril in August, the health-care overhaul has cleared a series of hurdles in recent weeks that have given Democrats increased confidence they will pass a bill," the Wall Street Journal reports. "Lobbyists on both sides of the issue have shifted their focus to what the bill will look like rather than questioning whether a measure can succeed." Ezra Klein observes that, for better or worse, the Finance bill creates a new health-care system that "will look a lot like our old health-care system. Unless you're uninsured, or on the individual market, this bill is not expected to affect you."
Plenty of hurdles to reform remain. Figuring out how to pay for the package has proven to be at least as controversial as the substance of the package itself. The two leading pay-fors -- taxing the rich or taxing "Cadillac" health plans -- both have large blocs of opponents among Democrats, not to mention Republicans. The House is currently preoccupied with those debates, as many members of the majority have made clear they won't accept the latter proposal. And as the cost of the House bill remains unclear, Roll Call writes that moderates "are feeling a new sense of urgency to try to stop Pelosi from bringing a bill to the floor that fails to rein in health care spending and bloats the deficit." And, Time reports, some liberals worry that the reform measure will leave too many decisions up to the states and create an unequal and inconsistent system of coverage across the country. The left is also concerned that even in the House bill, the public insurance option may be watered down.
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