CBO weighs in

CBO WEIGHS IN…. The Congressional Budget Office, at long last, released its score on the Senate health care proposal. Republicans hoping to use the score to attack the bill are likely to be disappointed.

The Senate’s healthcare bill would cost $871 billion and cover 31 million more Americans, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the bill.

The CBO said that the final legislation, unveiled Saturday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, would cost $871 billion over the next 10 years and reduce the deficit by $132 billion over the same period. That’s more than the first Senate bill had cost.

Roughly 31 million Americans would receive new coverage under the legislation.

The new score is higher than the $848 billion/10 year price tag the CBO gave Harry Reid’s original reform bill — the one that merged the HELP and Finance Committee bills — but it does more.

Of particular interest, note that annual and lifetime caps on benefits have been eliminated, which is in keeping with President Obama’s vision of necessary consumer protections. We learned this week that the original Senate bill allowed annual caps — a provision that was added to keep premiums down across the board — which drew intense criticism. The matter has been resolved, though the CBO found that the fix increases premiums a bit.

However, as Ezra noted, “There are also new rules prohibiting insurers from spending less than 85 percent of each premium dollar on medical care — if they exceed that cap, they need to send customers a rebate. This lowers costs slightly.”

On the whole, it’s a CBO score reform proponents on the Hill are happy to have.