CBO scores health-care bill at $940 billion, Dems say
Congressional Democrats on Thursday will unveil a final version of their comprehensive health-care plan, with House leaders saying the bill would cut the federal deficit by more than $100 billion over the next decade and more than $1 trillion over by 2030.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters Thursday that the legislation is "the largest deficit-reduction bill that members will have a chance to vote on" in most of their congressional careers -- a key enticement for a bloc of undecided Democratic lawmakers who fear the legislation would run up the mounting federal deficit.
Hoyer said his estimate of the savings the bill would provide -- between $120 billion and $130 billion over the first decade -- come from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
The health-care legislation, which Hoyer said would be posted to the Web site of the House Rules Committee sometime Thursday morning, will likely be voted on in the House on Sunday. It would cost an estimated $940 billion over 10 years and would deliver on the White House's top domestic priority by providing insurance to more than 30 million people who currently lack it. The bill would expand insurance coverage through a combination of tax credits for middle class households and an expansion of the Medicaid program for low-income people.
Exuding increasing confidence, Hoyer said Democratic leaders do not need President Obama to curtail his planned Sunday morning departure for a nearly weeklong trip to Southeast Asia in order to get the bill assed.
Hoyer said the one-on-one lobbying campaign Obama has conducted in recent days and weeks is working, and added that the president can get in touch with any last-minute holdouts from the phone on Air Force One.
"He's been working members very hard," Hoyer said.
If the legislation is approved Sunday, it will be shipped to a waiting jet that will fly it across the Pacific Ocean so that Obama can sign it, most likely in Indonesia, making the Senate-approved version the law of the land.
A separate piece of legislation, amending that sweeping health-care bill, would then be taken up next week in the Senate, where key switches need to be made to the legislation's provisions on the federal subsidies and tax credits that will finance the measure.
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