CBO Says Health Bill Would Cost $829 Billion

The measure would reduce the deficit by $81 billion over the next 10 years and would probably lead to further reductions in years beyond that, the Congressional Budget Officesaid. It would also expand health insurance coverage to 94 percent of the population, up from the approximately 83 percent covered now, the office estimated.

President Obama has said he will not sign a bill that would increase the federal deficit.

The CBO analysis clears the way for the Senate Finance Committee to vote on the bill, perhaps as early as Thursday. The panel finished its debate Friday, but Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., was waiting for the cost estimate, and has said he will give committee members enough time to study the CBO report before the vote.

However, he was already touting the results of the analysis:

“This legislation, I believe, is a smart investment on our federal balance sheet. It’s an even smarter investment for American families, businesses and our economy,” he said on the Senate floor, according to the Associated Press.

The legislation is the last of five proposed bills to come out of House and Senate committees; it is seen as the most middle-of-the-road of the proposed legislation.

Baucus has already said he believes that the measure has enough votes to pass his committee, although it seems likely that only one Republican, Sen. Olympia Snow of Maine, may vote for it.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is already working to combine it with the Senate health committee’s more liberal bill, to bring to the full Senate floor later this month.

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